September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’ When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.’”—Matthew 20:20–27 (NIV)
In this Scripture, Salome, the mother of James and John, approaches Jesus and asks Him for something that might seem odd to us. She asks Him for her sons to sit at His left and right side in the kingdom. Jesus kindly responds by telling her she doesn’t know what she’s asking because with His glory comes great suffering and sacrifice. Salome asked a sincere question, but her motivation was rooted in an earthly idea of power and well-being. She wanted the best for her sons, but she didn’t understand that following Jesus and living a life of servitude and sacrifice is actually the best way to live.
In 1 Corinthians 9:19–23, Paul writes about the role of servitude and sacrifice by explaining he must take time to truly understand others, find ways to relate with them, and intentionally show them Christ as a result. I recently experienced this when I partnered with some churches in Guyana on an 11-day mission trip. While being there, our team took time to learn more about their culture and history, eat their foods, and build relationships with them. We worshiped with them in the way they usually worship, without the production we’re used to in the U.S., and with much more dancing! It was so beautiful to witness the global body of Christ, a glimpse of our future, worshiping Jesus!
One of the first nights, we got the chance to plan part of a service. We quickly realized that the songs we knew and loved in the U.S. were not always known in the communities we were in, or they were not necessarily sung in the same way. Moving forward, we got to share worship songs with them that would resonate with their joyful desire to dance for the Lord. When we sang Waymaker the first night, we sang it slowly as we’re accustomed to here. It was still a beautiful moment of worship, but later in the trip, when we sang it again, one of the local church musicians helped us lead it and put a reggae-spin on it that got everyone in the church clapping and moving!
This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians and what Jesus meant when He talked about the importance of being a servant. When I think of the mission of Christ, I think about the necessity of humility in service and sacrifice. This is how we can truly love people like Jesus loved us! That’s why in 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV), Paul writes, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
In our Scripture today, Jesus took the opportunity to teach all of His disciples this valuable lesson because if we don’t have the right idea of His mission, then we’ll abuse it as a way to get more power on the earth. Jesus has so generously invited us to be a part of a mission of service, not of earthly power. The question is, will you join Him?
Pause: Have you ever confused, or seen other people confuse, the mission of God for a platform?
Practice: Do something today that requires sacrifice on your part to serve someone around you. Whatever it may be, remind yourself that loving others and living on mission for Christ means being intentional, humble, and a servant.
Pray: Beautiful Jesus, thank You for exemplifying to us what it looks like to be a humble and sacrificial servant. You took on flesh and experienced life just like us before dying a death we deserve in order to bridge the gap between us and the Father. That is the most beautiful representation of a servant and of Your mission! I praise You forever and I thank You for inviting me to join You in the mission! I pray You help me to continue walking with humility as Your servant. Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.