Matthew 20:17-28





People say lots of things, humorous and serious that make a lot of sense. We especially like it when people say sensible things when others are saying and doing things which are not sensible.


Nobody made more sense than the Lord Jesus Christ and that is because He is God.


This week Jesus is slowly headed towards Jerusalem for His last fateful visit.  On his way He will pass through Jericho and this event probably took place on the way to or in Jericho.

Let’s watch Jesus make sense this morning. Let’s see:




Vs. 17 – This is at least the third time that Jesus had warned the disciples.  He took them apart, because telling the multitude would do no good and stir up all sorts of trouble.


The disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish His Messianic Kingdom then and now.  They were looking for His reign to begin.


There will be a reign and the Apostles will have a key part in that reign.  Jesus had just recently assured them of that after the interview with the Rich Young Ruler. Matthew 19:28


What Jesus wanted the disciples to understand was that before there was a crown there was a cross.     


Vss. 18-19 – Jesus very explicitly spelled out for the disciples what was going to happen in Jerusalem.


·       He would be betrayed – This was done by Judas

·       The betrayer, Judas, would deliver Jesus over to the scribes, the translators and interpreters of the law, and the chief priests.  He would actually be delivered to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court.

·       The Sanhedrin would convict Jesus of blasphemy because He claimed to the Son of God.

·       They would condemn Jesus to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles, the Roman government.  The Jews did not have the authority to kill Jesus, so they turned Him over to the Roman authorities.

·       The Roman soldiers would mock and scourge Jesus and then crucify Him. Matthew 27:26-31

·       The good news is that on the third day Jesus would rise from the dead.


At first thought the cross makes no sense at all.  Here was a sinless righteous man, God in the flesh who would be falsely accused, persecuted and murdered.


But it does make sense when you consider why Jesus went to the cross.  He went as a substitute.

He went to the cross to die to pay for the judgment a righteous God must place on sin.  Jesus took the place of every sinner on the cross. He went to the cross to die for you. Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23a, Matthew 20:28, Isaiah 53:3-6


The only way the cross makes sense is that Jesus as our substitute for our sins. 


So what is our responsibility in light of what Christ did on the cross?  Accept His payment for sin. Rely on Him for forgiveness. John 3:16-18




We rightfully hold James and John in great regard.  James was the first Apostle to be martyred.  John was the Apostle of love, suffered for his faith on the Isle of Patmos and gave us five books of the New Testament: The Gospel of John, the Epistles of First, Second, and Third John, and the Book of Revelation  


But neither James, nor John, nor their mother Salome, were perfect.


Vs. 20 - Shortly after Jesus told His disciples for the third time that he was going to die, these people come to Jesus looking for a favor.


Instead of being concerned about the predicted death of their Lord and Master, and the suffering that would mean for Him, they were jockeying for position in the coming Kingdom.


Vs. 21 – Their mother was the spokesperson, but these fellows wanted and desired what she was asking for. In fact in the Gospel of Mark it says it was James and John that desired this privilege.  They wanted to be above everyone, even the other Apostles.  They wanted their thrones above everybody else’s throne but Jesus!


Vs. 22 – Jesus tells them that they do not know what they are asking.


How did Jesus earn His position of uppermost importance the Kingdom?  He did it through sacrifice and not self-seeking.  If Jesus was self-seeking, He would have never left Heaven, let alone gone to the cross. Philippians 2:5-11


Jesus was asking them if they were willing to be baptized with the same baptism and drink the same cup of humiliation, suffering and death as he was.  Those who will be rewarded by the King must suffer for the king.


The Christian life is not one of self-seeking, but sacrifice! Luke 14:26-27, Romans 12:1, 2 Timothy 3:12  


Why should I be willing to live such a sacrificial life?  Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for me!   

Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.


Vs. 23 - Jesus looks ahead and realizes that although these two disciples will sacrifice for Him, as every true believer in Christ will. But He tells them that rank in the Kingdom, at least as far as the highest positions has already been ordained by God. 


These disciples were not be concerned with position, but with sacrifice for their Lord and Master.




Vs. 24 – The disciples were jealous.  They probably thought that James and John were taking advantage over their family relationship.  They wanted that sort of position for themselves.


Vs. 25 – In the governments of Jesus’ day there were many dictatorships.  And many “great men” would “lord it over” those below them.  They could be very tyrannical.


And we all know people who like to lord it over others today.  They like to use their authority to take advantage of others.


Vs. 26 – But Jesus said, that it is not to be that away among His followers.  Those who are in the greatest positions of authority are to be ministers, or servants of all.  This word is the word we get the word “deacon”. In fact, each one of us when we are in church or involved with church people is to serve. Galatians 5:13


Vs. 27 – Jesus makes His command it even more intense.   

The word servant here means slave.


If we are going to be leaders and if we are going to receive Christ’s greatest rewards, we are to be slaves. Philippians 2:3-4


Vs. 28 – Jesus did what He was telling His disciples to do.

Not only did He come to serve as a slave.  But He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. 


Should we as His followers do anything less?   


What Jesus said here makes sense.

Instead of living a self-seeking selfish life, let us seek to live a sacrificial life of service.