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July 25, 2022

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DG BookGospel: Matthew 20:20-28
Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask
a favor. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here, you have my two sons.
Grant, that they may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?”
They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink my cup; but to sit at my right or at my left is not for
me to grant. That will be for those, for whom my Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “You know,
that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you: whoever
wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself
the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.”


Close on heels on our reflection on the assured fruitfulness of intercessory prayers comes the story of a seemingly
failed intercession: The mother of James and John came interceding for special places of honor for them in Christ’s
Kingdom. Jesus answers neither positively or negatively, but draws attention to the core problem with the prayer:
“You do not know what you are asking,” he says. At the core of her prayer was self-interest and displacement of others.
Asking for places of honor for one’s own sons was all about honor for herself and the family. Worse, it was also ensuring
that others did not receive a similar favor and were left lesser than her own children. The intercession was all mired in
narcissistic interests that sought to exclude than to include, to lord over others than to serve. Such intercessions do not work
with God. Only those prayers that seek the genuine good of the other will please the heart of God.

© Copyright Bible Diary 2022

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