The Gospel of Matthew

Jesus equips us to serve others

This devotional is written by Megan Tracey. I'm 25, from Nottingham, have lived in London since 2013 minus a year or so in Spain! I got to visit St Mary's a few times before the pandemic hit, but started streaming the services regularly in August. I'm very enthusiastic about most things, but especially chatting, dancing and exploring. And my favourite podcasts.

Matthew 20:20-34

A mother's request

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

21 '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.'

22 'You don't know what you are asking,' Jesus said to them. 'Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?'

'We can,' they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, 'You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.'

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

Two blind men receive sight

 29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'

32 Jesus stopped and called them. 'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked.

33 'Lord,' they answered, 'we want our sight.'

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Reflection

In verses 26-27, Jesus teaches His disciples that they should strive for greatness by serving others. To me, this is one of Jesus' most striking and radical teachings. To be another's servant is to put their needs before your own, even if it's inconvenient or uncomfortable for you.

Over the last year we have been asked to serve others in previously unimaginable ways. We have shut down many parts of our lives and halted our plans to protect people from Covid-19. I'm encouraged by this reminder that the strange, restricted lives we're living at the moment are in service to others.

The Amplified version of verse 27 adds that we should be willing and humble in our servitude. Wow. My approach to serving others is often more begrudging than willing and humble. On first read it seems almost impossible, but I think Jesus shows us the way forward through verse 28. His words remind us that He was the ultimate servant, putting our needs before his own to the extent that he gave his life for us. Thanks to His sacrifice, our right-standing with God is restored and His Holy Spirit can dwell within us. We can access His limitless love, joy, peace, patience - all we need to serve others willingly and humbly.

Jesus is not calling us to an impossible task - the work has already been done on the cross.

Lord, thank you for serving us, for giving your life for us. Thank you for sending your Spirit to dwell within us and equip us with all that we need to sacrificially love and serve others as You did. Holy Spirit, please strengthen us where we feel weak, bear fruit where we have grown barren. I ask especially for renewed love, joy and patience as we serve others through abiding by Covid regulations.

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