Events today frequently feature struggles over who is going to take the leadership in a nation. Today, in Matthew 20, we read how the mother of two of the disciples came to Jesus to request “that these two sons of mine are to sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your kingdom” (verse 21). The parallel passage in Mark’s Gospel (10:37) shows the sons were fully involved in seeking this honour. Matthew shows that the rest of the disciples (verse 24) were “indignant at the 2 brothers” (James and John).
The outcome is that Jesus spells out a vital principle to all the disciples, he “called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (verses 25-28).
And so a mother who wanted to boast about the position her son’s held, and the disciples who all had a degree of ambition for greatness, were reprimanded, their way of thinking was immature. It is human nature to want to boast but that is the opposite of what God desires.
Paul made an important point in 2 Corinthians 10 where we read, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends”.
The words of God that came to Jeremiah are so appropriate and meaningful; let’s memorize them. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the LORD” (9:23,24). Let us also delight in them – and ask ourselves, ‘Do we understand and know God’?