Matthew 20:17-28 Over Zealous Parent

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “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.”

22 “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.

23 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.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 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. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Over Zealous Parent

Jesus, I am a parent and I want the best for my son.  I was with him all day today and when he passed his Kindergarten screening I had great plans for him.  However, it is as something of an idol.  I want him to be a better version of me.  He holds my name and I see him as an extension of myself.  If he can be great, then I am great.  My friend Ken was expressing the same concerns about parents as we enter baseball season.  They seem to stand around boasting about their children’s baseball prowess.  Is this what really matters?  Maybe they will be one of the few who plays in front of millions for millions of dollars?  What is such an opportunity worth?  How did you feel about James and John’s mother missing the point?  James was one of the first disciples to be martyred and John was the last to die.  Which one was ultimately a success and which one was a failure?  They both drank the cup of persecution and suffering, and they do have honoured roles in the foundation of the church.  However, I believe, even at this point, the disciples thought you would rise up in force and through the strength of your words and the power of your revealed majesty, you would bring the world to their knees.

What do I want, Jesus?  I want you.  That is my peace. I want you.  Therein is my comfort.  What I want for my child is similar to what James and John’s mother wanted.  I fall down like her and I ask that both my children will be close to you.  I do not necessarily want them sat on thrones.  It doesn’t matter.  Ultimately I want them just to be able to hear you, to talk with you.  May we have the wisdom to be parents who lead them to you.


  1. Who comes to Jesus?
  2. Do you think her sons are aware of her actions?
  3. What kind of future do you think Jesus’ community was imagining at this point?
  4. What do you want for your children?
  5. How can you lead your children toward what God wants for them?

If God is challenging you in the area of parenting, grandparenting, or being a role-model in a child’s life, please consider attending a six-week course at The Orchard in McHenry, which I will be teaching along with Ken Gates, Keith Bjorge and Michael O’Brien.  If you know the others, you’ll know why I consider myself the weakest link.  I will be learning as much as I teach, I am sure.  Kelli and I will both be there and child care is free regardless of what you read elsewhere.

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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