Yesterday we saw that humanityís idea of fairness is not always the same as Godís, which can only be a good thing. However, after a lifetime of thinking in a certain way, it is hard for all of us to begin to grasp the completely different way of thinking that operates in the kingdom of heaven.
Here, we see that some of Jesusí disciples and their family members were still stuck in a very human way of thinking, despite what Jesus had said. James and John wanted favoured spots in the kingdom, although they seemed happy to let their mother do the talking for them. These two disciples had completely missed the significance of the parable Jesus had told. They had also missed the significance of Jesus predicting his own death. We need not think they were alone in their lack of understanding. The fact that the other disciples were angry that they had asked the question showed how much they longed for these top spots themselves.
The disciples did not understand at all that before the crown must come the cross. Jesus would ascend his throne in heaven only after the cross. Were these men willing to pay the same price for a high position alongside Jesus?
In fact, both James and John would suffer for the Gospel. James would later be executed as a martyr, and John would suffer in exile. But even this would not guarantee them what they were asking for. The kingdom of God does not operate like a human kingdom, with overbearing rulers giving high positions because of favouritism, or due to being bribed or threatened. In the kingdom of God, it is those who serve who are favoured, not those who view themselves as being above others.
As we serve God faithfully on earth, we may feel that the rewards are few and far between, but be assured that God sees what you do in secret and he sees the innermost thoughts of your heart. May we continue to be transformed in our thinking and understanding so that we can truly know the way of humility.