King of Kings and Servant of Servants

When Salome, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, knelt before Jesus with her request that her boys be seated with him in his kingdom, she had no idea what she was asking.

Jesus responded by asking, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”—referring to his death, burial, and resurrection. They replied affirmatively, “We can.” Jesus replied most graciously, “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” Matthew 20:23.

It seems to be an upside down request that Salome made on behalf of her sons. Who would feel comfortable approaching the Lord with such a prideful request? She had it all wrong. One doesn’t ask for honor; it’s something bestowed to an individual. Even on Jesus’ worst day, he never begged or demanded to be honored or served. He always took the humble road, eschewing his high position by bearing the image of a man—not counting his godliness something to grab onto but lowered himself—always. He was a servant among servants.

James and John, indeed died martyr’s deaths; however, they did not in any way come close to enduring the Lord’s suffering. Nor did they understand that God’s kingdom would be a heavenly one and not earthly. In God’s economy, it’s only through our humility and consideration of one another as more important than ourselves that we are elevated. We don’t raise ourselves up. That’s pride. God hates that. We are lifted up as the Lord sees fit—if and when—and, usually, only when we aren’t looking to be.