Assigned Seats

David Bast

READ : Matthew 20:17-28

Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking.” (v. 22)

Be careful what you ask for; you might get it! Jesus’ disciples, though, still don’t “get it.” For the third time Jesus warns them about his impending suffering and death, but they aren’t really listening. After all, he’s the Messiah, heading toward Jerusalem. What else could Jesus be going there for, except to take his throne?

The mother of James and John, with her sons close behind, approaches Jesus and asks him to promise them the two thrones on either side of his. There is evidence in the gospels that this woman was Jesus’ aunt, Mary’s sister — which perhaps makes her audacity a little more understandable.

Jesus rebuffs her: “You don’t know what you’re asking.” Then he puts a question to the brothers: “Can you drink the cup I’m going to drink?” “Sure,” James and John chirp. They really don’t get it. “Well, you will someday,” Jesus says rather grimly, “but those thrones are for the ones God has chosen.” Notice, Jesus does not deny that he will reign in glory, or that his faithful disciples will reign with him. He simply tells us that heaven’s thrones are assigned seats.

But before we worry about which seat is ours, we must drink the cup. The cross comes before the crown.


Thank you, Lord, that though suffering is real, heaven is also real.