Read: Matthew 20:20–28

And Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” She said to Him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at Your right hand and one at your left, in Your kingdom.” Matthew 20:21

For some reason, James and John’s mother made an embarrassingly bold request of Jesus. She asked for her two sons to have the best seats in Jesus’ kingdom. Perhaps she was the kind of parent who always advocated for her children to get ahead. Perhaps she was still annoyed that Jesus’ call to her sons had left her husband alone in his fishing boat with no one to help him. Or maybe James and John had constantly shared their desire with their mother, and she was fed up with their unwillingness to act on their own impulses.

Whatever the case, she did not know what she was asking for, and Jesus told her as much. Positions in the kingdom are not Jesus’ to grant. However, to choose to live like Jesus in this world was all a matter of will and passion. For all their desire, James and John did not wind up on either side of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus was flanked by two criminals—one on his right and the other on his left. Seating in the kingdom of heaven will be arranged by God, and jockeying for position next to Jesus can cost us dearly. We might want to be careful what we wish for and, instead, simply focus on doing what Jesus asks of us.

Do you want to be close to Jesus?

Lord, I want to live my life in close relationship to You. However, I do not really know what that kind of intimacy will cost. What will You ask me to do? Where will following You lead me? Does standing by Your side mean hanging on a cross one day? I don’t know…All I know is that living apart from You is not an option for me any longer. I want to be with You, on earth and in heaven. I will do my best to follow and leave the seating arrangements to You. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.