Good morning! I’m glad to welcome you to worship today at Hillcrest Baptist Church.
J. Oswald Sanders calls it the “Master’s Master Principle”. Jesus, our Master, taught that in His kingdom things were much different from the modus operandi of the mindset of this world. Jesus taught that the way up is down, the way to live is to die, the way to gain is to lose, the way to be first is to be last, and the way to be the greatest of all is to be servant of all.
John Calvin tells us of this passage (Matthew 20:17-28): “This narrative contains a bright mirror of human vanity,” commenting, “for it shows us that proper and holy zeal is often accompanied by ambition, or some other vice of the flesh, so that they who follow Christ have a different object in view from what they ought to have” (Calvin’s NT Commentaries, pg. 417). That is the danger facing each of us. John Calvin calls ambition “a concealed flame.” It exists in each of us, striving for acclaim, power, position, and attention. The concealed flame of ambition can be easily fueled when losing sight of the cross for visions of personal glory. If those closest to Christ fell prey to ambition, then we too must guard against its grip on our lives (pg. 423).
I do not think that any of us would question the loyalty of the sons of Zebedee, James and John. They loved Christ and loved serving Him. They wanted to spend their days in His presence. They certainly wanted Him to be King! Yet right in the midst of commendable desires are woven the threads of ambition, vaunting self, vainglory, and clamoring for position and posture over others in order to be esteemed by the same.
Jesus reveals what it means to “really” be “first” in His kingdom.