“Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
In Matthew 20: 20-23 we read the story of a mother requesting that her two sons sit at Christ’s side in His kingdom. Jesus replies in verse 22-23, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
Jesus saw through this mother’s hidden agenda. It seems they were were still thinking in terms of personal prominence and personal reward and distinction. But Jesus was having none of it. Jesus wanted to be sure this mother saw a difference between what she was asking and the realities of the Kingdom. She could not have realized the seriousness of her request. We can shake our head at the mother’s request, but what about our agenda? Our agenda often centers on what we want and what we want is usually more than we currently have.
Some people assume that Christianity is actually an enormous boost to achieving their personal agenda. They have dreams of a happy, healthy, family-filled prosperous life. And now that God is on their side and He is the fulfiller of dreams and the maximizer of personal potential, golden times are ahead. Craig Groeschel said that ”We reflect God’s character the most when we give freely of ourselves with no strings attached, no secret motives, no hidden agenda.” We may not like how things are going, but we can trust God’s plan. We can trust that God is working out His design to form Christ in us. But we must understand that His agenda is different than ours.
Whether you struggle with daily glitches that change your agenda, or with major changes that bring heartache, I want to encourage you that God is in control. He has a plan mapped out for you. He sees your struggle, and He has compassion for you. His design for your life is good. Even when you can’t understand His plans, you can trust that He loves you and He’s planning something more beautiful than you can imagine.
I’m not claiming to have the answers. But I do know that God is sovereign and in control. God knows what He’s doing. Sometimes I forget, but he has a plan. God knows my heart. He knows what I desire. And He has plans to “prosper (me) and not to harm [me], to give [me] a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). I challenge you to put your agenda aside and live according to God’s agenda. It will change your perspective and your life.
- Why do we tend to think that God’s agenda/will is something difficult to discern? What does God want us to understand?
- Was there a time when your agenda clashed with God’s agenda? What happened? What did God teach you from the experience?
- Respond to the statement, “The point is not to avoid life’s troubles, but to trust God in them.” How can you practically do this this week?