In Matthew 20, Jesus, for a third time, faces the disciples with the facts of His death, burial and resurrection. In chapter 16, Peter’s response had been Demonic, in chapter 17 the disciples response was Despondent. How will they react this time?
How do we respond to repeated truth? How many times do we have to hear the same teaching before it penetrates our mind, will and emotions? We may not realize how ‘demonic’ our resistance to the will of God really is. Perhaps we’ve given ‘the devil a foothold’ as Paul warns the Ephesian church. Perhaps we’ve failed to ‘resist the devil’ and instead have yielded to his strategic temptations.
The final journey has begun and with just a few weeks until Palm Sunday, Jesus once more predicts His eternally-planned death. There will be betrayal, suffering, crucifixion but also resurrection.
On this third occasion the truth seems to pass through their ears without leaving any impact. Look at the immediate activity of James and John who had purposefully brought their mother to the discipleship group meeting.
She kneels in front of Jesus. At first blush, we assume she is in a posture of worship, of surrender, of contrition before the One who has called her sons into service. Jesus questions her, and in His questioning permits her to disclose a selfish heart.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Think of the One asking and the breadth of this question. Here’s a blank cheque. You fill in the amount. How would you and I respond to this opportunity.
James and John and their mother have come prepared. They want power. They want position. They want prestige. Three traps that leadership offers anyone.
Jesus confronts the audacity of this self-centred prayer, as He confronts our praying when it does not reflect God’s will. There’s a price to be paid. “Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?”
How quickly they respond. How confidently they answer. They have more trust in their own ability than in Christ’s. Isn’t that the lethal nature of this temptation? A senses of inadequacy must pervade our life and ministry so we will be cast 100% on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. I am not strong. I am not sinless. I am not straight in my priorities. Without Him, I can do nothing! Can I just not admit my inability or will I assert before the all-seeking, all-knowing Christ my ridiculous self-confidence?
This Holy Week is a time of self-examination. ‘Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.’ “Without Me,” Jesus asserts elsewhere, “you can do nothing.” Nothing? Yes, nothing of eternal value without His help. May today be a day of confession, a day of repentance, a day of acknowledging our desperate need of the Saviour.
“I need Thee, O I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee…” Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Come on disciples, this is your third opportunity to get it! Three strikes and you’re ……. Unless you own up to your sin, confess it, and find at the cross, ‘The Mercy Tree’ an amazing Saviour!