Mathew 20: 20 – 28 ———Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
And He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They said to Him, “We are able.”
So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
This is a mother’s request. The mother of James and John comes to Jesus. In the Book of Mark we find that the first request was that Jesus would do for them whatever they asked of Him. Jesus prompted them to be more specific and that is when this specific request comes “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
This is a very bold request to make. To sit on the right and the left hand is to be made the two highest ranks in the kingdom possible. The one of the right being “second” in command and the one the left “third” in command. She is asking that Jesus make her two sons the two highest ranking officials in the kingdom under Jesus.
How could this woman be so bold to ask such a thing? One reason could be her relationship to Jesus. The closeness of her relationship with Jesus explains to some degree the boldness she has in coming to Jesus with this request.
It is not uncommon for people to use their relatives or other relationships they have developed as a means to achieve some greater position for themselves.
She comes to Jesus seeking to gain for her sons, and really for herself as well. What mother does not want her children to rise to important positions, to be “successful?” Parents take great pride in how their children turn out, especially if they do achieve important positions. “My son, the lawyer… My daughter, the doctor, etc.
Jesus’ first response seeks to bring them back to reality. “You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” He questions them as to whether they realized the high price that would have to be paid to be counted worthy of the position they were seeking.