The Ambitious Mother

Dennis Voskuil

READ : Matthew 20:20-23

Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink? (v. 22)

Jesus and his entourage were walking up toward Jerusalem when Mrs. Zebedee, her sons James and John in tow, knelt in front of Jesus and said, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (v. 21).

Like many, Mrs. Zebedee believed that Jesus’ popularity would turn into political power. She was ambitious and hoped Jesus would appoint her boys as high officials, especially if he became the next king of the Jews. Can you blame her? James and John, along with Peter, were already part of the inner circle of disciples.

Looking at James and John, Jesus said, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said they were able, but were clueless that within a week Jesus would be arrested, accused of blasphemy, tried and found guilty, mocked, scourged, and crucified.

Christian leadership is costly. Following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, James and John and the other disciples would understand what Jesus meant about drinking the cup of persecution, suffering, and death. Most of them eventually died as martyrs, carrying the gospel across the ancient world.

When we consider serving Christ, we must also count the cost of leadership. Following Jesus may bring ridicule, loss, persecution, and even death. Are you able?


Faithful God, grant us the wisdom to count the cost, as well as the courage to bear the burdens of leadership.