How to be the Greatest in the Kingdom of God?

by: Pastor Isaias T. Songcuan Jr.

Our Scripture Study for today is found in Matthew 20:20-28. This is about the two sons of Zebedee namely James and John who are also the disciple of Jesus. These disciples wanted prestige, power, and to be important in the kingdom. We are all aware that the followers of Jesus were not paragons of virtue like the Hollywood Stars. They were simply just like the common people. The lesson also gives us some valuable insights into James and John. Perhaps, they were ordinary fishermen, but ambitious at the same time.

In Mark 10:35, the way that James and John introduced their request to Jesus was rooted in selfishness. In the following verse, Jesus asked about their petition. This question goes with every one of us. Remember the blind man, Bartimaeus? He asked Jesus to restore his sight, and Jesus granted Bartimaeus request (Mark 10:46-52). In contrast, James and John longed for the coveted desired position. These two disciples were speaking about gaining glory while Jesus was sharing about death. Keep in mind that Jesus told to his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:29).  Clearly, they wanted favored position seats in the Kingdom. We find it hard to imagine how James and John could be so ignorant. Their  request was wrong because they were asking Jesus to fit into their plans rather than trying to see “how they might fit into Jesus’s  plans.” In verse 38, Jesus said to the two brothers that they do not know what they were asking. This situation that Jesus encountered with His disciples characterizes most petitions made by the believers. Despite Jesus’s multiple warnings of His coming sufferings and death (Mark 10:32-34). James and John still can’t understand the idea of Jesus was about to face. In verse 40, Jesus answered James and John that it’s him who will make the decision who will sit at his right and left. The 10 disciples were angry at James and John after hearing their conversation as is revealed in the next verse. They were upset because they were unwilling to be last. Maybe, the 10 disciples also desire the same position of prestige and power. They have the same idea in their minds; contending for places of honor which the two brothers were eager to have. The twelve followers of Jesus Christ consistently failed to comprehend either the crucifixion predictions or Jesus’s instructions to them. Jesus did not rebuke the twelve disciples. Instead, He used their behavior as a  “beginning point” for teaching. Jesus instructed them about the Kingdom of  God. 

  In the Kingdom of God, the greatness of the individual comes from the lowly place. The Kingdom rules are different from the rules of this world. In fact, it is just the opposite. Those who live by the rules of this world Honor power. In the Kingdom of  God, honors the one who “Serve.” The First prize will go to the bondservant or slave to  Christ.  Jesus defining “Kingdom leadership as servant leadership.”

The Kingdom Power is not ruling ” Over” others, but by coming    “Under” others. In other words, it is “self-sacrificial servanthood.” It involves the leaders serving the people, and Not the People serving the leaders. The Kingdom Power is not demanding and humiliating those on the underside of power.  

To be Great in the Kingdom of God is measured by one’s willingness to deny oneself for the benefit of others.  Remember that the Kingdom’s definitions of greatness will always be in conflict with worldly political definitions. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” Jesus gave His life to release and free us from the bondage to sin and death.   

Our Savior, Jesus Christ patterned to us the service and His sacrifice from the duration of His life on earth. He  “Stripped” himself as God and emptied Himself taking the form of a  slave being born in human likeness. He humbled Himself and became obedient to point of death on the Cross (Philippians 2:4-8). Both the incarnation and the Crucifixion are acts of great service and sacrifice. Only Jesus can serve as a ransom for many. Only Jesus has an unsurpassable and unequaled role in the plan of our Salvation.  Take a moment to give praise to our God who came on earth to serve, die and rescue and set us free from our sins. To God Be the  Glory! 

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Who is Greater in the Kingdom of God? by Pastor Isaias T. Songcuan Jr.

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