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

‘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.’

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’” Matthew 20:20-22

We’re all so good at judging others superficially, and forgetting that their internal world is every bit as complex as ours.

Here Jesus is dealing with complex issues around honour, status, favour, and who knows what else. There’s lots we could get out of the passage. Today I just have a simple reflection. We have a tendency to underestimate how hard others may be working or suffering for their ‘luck’ or status.

This episode also reminds us that we have the benefit of a body of scriptural witness to inform our reactions to all that Jesus did. It’s helpful to notice that there were a range of misunderstandings of what Jesus did and what he was about. Easy for us to think that this woman sounds like a pushy mother, with a lot of pride in how she thinks her sons should be treated. But we don’t know what sacrifices they were making in following Jesus. Maybe she had good reason to plead with him for some promise of reward. How can we judge?

As the saying goes, Bible reading isn’t so much about reading God’s word, as letting his word read us.


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