James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus]. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask. … Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” … When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Saved to Serve
James and John were ambitious. They knew that great things were in store for Jesus and those who followed him. They wanted to be rewarded and recognized as Jesus’ closest disciples.
We are ambitious. We like to be acknowledged. We want God to bless and prosper us right here, right now. We want mom and dad’s approval. We want classmates to envy us. We want the corner office at work. We want to be the Joneses in our neighborhood. But because of our sin, we all fall short. We fall short of other’s expectations, of personal goals, of God’s glory.
Jesus had ambitions too, and he did not fall short. He did not come to earth to push people around. He had his sights set on saving humanity from the damning consequence of sin. He came to serve the world by offering his holy life as a payment for all sin. And God gave his approval of Jesus’ work by raising him from the dead.
By faith in Jesus, we have God’s full acceptance. We are his beloved children in whom he is well-pleased. Since we already have God’s full recognition, we don’t need to seek it from the world. Motivated by the Son of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are free to use our energy to serve others. Our ambition is that others see Jesus in us and hear about him from us, so they become God’s children too.
Dearest Jesus, forgive me for my selfish ambition. Grant me a spirit of humility and a heart that looks out for the needs of others. Amen.