“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mt 20:25-28)
This incident happened during the last week of our Lord’s life. Jesus called His disciples and told them that He will go to Jerusalem to die. He will be betrayed by the religious leaders. He will be handed over to the Romans to be killed. For a Jew to be given to a Gentile to be killed, that was the height of sorrow.
Jesus has just told them that there shall be a dramatic radical change in the status of many, based on their service to Him. ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’. Now He addresses their natural desire to be promoted spiritually. A mother comes and worships Him with a request on behalf of her two sons. She wants them to be His ‘personal assistants’ and the highest rulers in God’s kingdom.
Jews respected mothers and took serious their love for children. For example, that is how Bathsheba got her wish for her son to be king. But here, Jesus refuses the mother’s request saying that He is not able to promote men just because they pray for it. Here Jesus speaks not as God, but as a man, as a slave and servant of His Father. A slave has no rights at all. A slave cannot promote himself or others. The royal holy seat of promotion is lovingly designed and prepared by God the Father. It shall remain a secret until the hour of manifestation. It shall surprise many who coveted it, who honestly pray for it.
There is a price to pay for promotion in the spiritual realm. God looks not just at the works, but at the heart and at the motives for service. The lower you get, the more you humble yourself, the higher you shall be. The Kingdom of God advances by the hidden sacrificial work of the royal servants of God. They are placed in strategic places. It is not the visible ‘men of God’ who always have the greatest impact. It is them who, for the love of their Master, have pierced their ears and hearts, have died to sin and to the world and for the sake of the glorious Gospel of Christ. They paid the price in obedience, faithfulness and love. They sacrificed many hours on the altar of the ministry of prayer and the Word. They do not oppress or manipulate others into submission, like the leaders of this world. But going down on their knees, they have learned the secret how to lift the name of Jesus so that others shall be drawn unto Him. They have practiced the skill of intercession. They have the key to God’s heart thru intimate worship.
Are you a servant of God? Do you wonder about a greater impact in your service? Do you pray for promotion? That is good! But remember, God does not pay daily or weekly. He rewards in His own time and His own style. God never makes mistakes. God does not need a counselor. He is sovereign in all His decisions. The promotion of men is a sign that He is alive and in control of all their affairs.
Do not worry anymore, dear (overworked, misunderstood, oppressed…) child of God! God who sees in secret shall reward you openly! This is His law! This is His promise!
In Christ I declare:
I am a child of God!
I am a servant of God!
I shall be obedient unto death!
I shall be faithful unto death!
I leave my desire for promotion in the hands of my Father, who loves me!
I totally trust God with my life and reward for service!
In Jesus name