128. James’ and John’s request of Jesus- Matt. 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45
-James and John, with the help of their mom as Matthew indicates, make a request of the King of kings to sit at His Right Hand in the coming Kingdom. At this time they probably were actually thinking of an earthly Kingdom as well as the Heavenly One. For them the future was unclear at this point and their understanding was darkened. Jesus takes the opportunity to do further teaching on servitude and what it really takes to be great in the eyes of God. A couple of things we should take note of here in the text. First, Jesus pointedly asked them if they would be willing to drink of the same cup, or be baptized (immersed), with which He was about to drink. *Application* When Jesus tells us to take up our own cross, He is being quite literal and expects us to endure the same type or types of persecution He also endured (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). James would be killed in Jerusalem for the gospel’s sake under cruel hands (Acts 12:1-2) and John would live a long life fraught with danger and imprisonments for the sake of Christ Jesus his Lord (Revelation 1:9). They followed through on their word and remained faithful to the call no matter what the cost. So should we.
-Secondly, the manner of which we lead is important. Jesus taught His disciples that they were not to lead in the manner of the world (Gentiles, great men of the earth). Instead, they were to lead as servants from the bottom up. Jesus makes the fact clear that this was His chosen method of leadership and He expected the same from His followers. “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave (doulos, Matthew 20:27, Mark 10:44).” *Application* Jesus came to serve, not to be served in selfish adulation and neither should we. This request for authority made the other disciples indignant and it is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for their ire. We see the extent of Christ’s sacrifice delineated here as He teaches. He gives us example by obedience to the Father in all things pertaining to authority and gives up His rights without question or complaint. This is intended for us as well as the disciples we read about here. Are you frustrated with the place God has chosen for you in this world? Could this possibly be a test to see where your heart is and how much you have come into conformity to His will rather than your own? We must humbly submit to His authority in our lives and serve others with a pure heart if we are to be “great” in the Kingdom of God. This is the way of the LORD and it behooves us to accept it.
Verses to Memorize- Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45
129. Healing of blind Bartimaeus- Matt. 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:36-43
-Now leaving Jericho, which near the Jordan River Valley just north of the Dead Sea, Jesus encounters a blind man named Bartimaeus, and another blind man as Matthew points out, as a large crowd was following Him. They were persistent and undeterred by the stern warning from the crowd to shut it up with their praise of recognition (calling Him the Son of David) and requests for mercy. Jesus was moved with compassion for them and asks the question, “What do you want Me to do for you (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51, Luke 18:41)?” The answer should have been obvious, but the matter of being specific is emphasized here. *Application* Often the Lord wants us to absolutely specific in what we ask for. We have not many times because we ask not and with the wrong motives (James 1:5; 4:2-3). His Spirit will let you know when to ask specifically just as Jesus physically asked the question to Bartimaeus. Also, it is good practice to make people who are asking for prayer from you to be specific. You want them to identify their needs to you so that you know exactly how to pray. This is a communication issue and the Lord directs us here to be clear in it.
-Jesus heals them because of their faith we find out in the text (Mark 10:52, Luke 18:42). This caused quite a stir as you can imagine as the men and the crowd became excited and glorified the Lord! *Application* The Lord is still in the business of performing miracles today when He finds faith and specific requests. Go to the Lord and persistently cry out for His mercy and goodness on all of your needs. He will supply according to His riches in Heaven (Philippians 4:19).
Verse to Memorize- Luke 18:42
130. Zacchaeus- Luke 19:2-10
-Luke recounts a tremendous event in the town of Jericho as Jesus was passing through that no other gospel writer takes notice of. Zacchaeus, a man small in stature but rich with ill gotten wealth as a chief tax collector, wanted to see this Jesus who was coming through his area. Christ’s reputation must have been immense as we see here by the interest generated by His arrival and Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Him pass by. When Jesus gets to Zacchaeus’ spot on the path, He, having all knowledge, looks up and asks him to come down in a hurry for He must stay at his house that day (Luke 19:5). Notice that Zacchaeus immediately came down in obedience and received Jesus gladly (Luke 19:6). This is the response Jesus loves as we have noted in other accounts when the call to follow that He places on His disciples is made (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9). *Application* Our response to the call of Jesus on our lives is paramount. His desire is for us to trust Him in all things and in all ways without questioning and without doubting. He wants an immediate positive response and will go on without you as He did with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-27) when you waffle or say no. Always say “yes!” to Jesus.
-The disdain for the sinner by the crowd is next noted by the author in this story. Jesus was not swayed by their opinion. He saw the heart of Zacchaeus and the potential this man had for salvation and good works. Jesus made association with a sinner to bring him into the Kingdom of God and goes into his house as a guest for the purpose of life change (transformation, reconciliation, exchange). Christ Jesus became Zacchaeus’ Lord and it radically changed his posture toward life as we see from his commitments to the poor and those he had defrauded (Luke 19:8). The comment Jesus makes at the end of the section says it all, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10).” *Application* Are we recognizing our opportunities to find Zacchaeus like people in our personal lives? Seek them out; look high and low, to the left and right. They are all around us, lost and afraid in a world of hurt and sin looking for the answer to all their questions. Don’t be too busy or too preoccupied by other, mundane, things to notice those who need Christ around you. He who wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30). Share the good news of a life in Christ Jesus!
Verse to Memorize- Luke 19:10