Turn with me to the twentieth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
We will start in verse 20.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they just didn’t get
what you were talking about? They heard your words,
understood the words but didn’t have a clue what you were talking
about. That happened to Jesus a lot, particularly when it
involved the kingdom.
His followers were thoroughly schooled from birth in the Jewish
tradition that expected the messiah to be a conquering
warrior. They did not understand that all of the prophecies
that pointed to a physical kingdom actually refer to the end times as
predicted in the Book of Revelations and Daniel.
The disciples spent a lot of time jockeying for position in the
physical kingdom they expected. They had a pecking order
among themselves. John’s mother went so far as to ask Jesus
to give John and his brother the honored ruling positions of right and
left hand at court.
It’s not that Jesus didn’t say it plainly enough. He
did: He said it was not an earthly kingdom. His
followers got both the where and when wrong. He was talking
about a spiritual kingdom, they understood physical kingdom of
Israel. They were thinking a Jewish kingdom with the Romans
expelled, Jesus was talking about the spirit of Christ living within
believers. Let’s crack open the book and
step into one of these conversations:
Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's
children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing
Matthew 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith
unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right
hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
Can you imagine the Zebedee family conversations among the brothers,
mom and cousins that led up to this request? Do you suppose
they had already been out shopping for their courtly
robes? We know that this wasn’t just a spontaneous
question put forth by a proud mom. The account in the book of
Mark ascribes the question to the two brothers. It was their idea; they
were using their mom as an agent. There was obviously some
discussion and strategy planning involved leading up to the asking for
the number two and number three power positions in the Kingdom of
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what
ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to
be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto
him, We are able.
Matthew 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed
of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:
but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but
it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with
indignation against the two brethren.
According to Webster, indignation is anger aroused by something unjust,
unworthy, or mean. The ten thought that the two sons of
Zebedee were taking unfair advantage. They were jockeying for position
in a physical earthly kingdom: The kingdom of
Israel. The ten were more than a little
ticked off. All of the twelve and their families
did not understand. Look at verse twenty five:
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye
know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and
they that are great exercise authority upon them.
This is what the two were asking: To have dominion over the
others. To rule over the court when Jesus moved into Herod’s
castle. Just like the Gentile kings and the Jewish Kings had
done. Dominion comes from a Greek word that means to lord
against or subjugate. They were asking to be the bosses; the
controllers, the punishers. But Jesus said:
Matthew 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever
will be great among you, let him be your minister; (servant)
Matthew 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him
be your servant:
And then Jesus uses himself as an example:
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be
ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for
We have given the King James word “minister” meanings that it was never
meant to have. The word minister is translated from
a word that means to run errands, to wait tables; a
servant. A servant does not have any dominion over
those they serve.
The idea of dominion of one believer over another is not new.
In many churches there are “bosses,” “little bosses” and then “the
bossed.” The power hierarchy is up-front and blatant in some
organizations and subtly hiding beneath the surface in
others. The use of intimidation, deceit, fear and shaming are
used to keep bullied and exhausted followers in line.
The First Jewish Christians continued to follow the religious laws of
Moses as do many, many denominational churches today. The
leadership structure of almost all denominations are based on the Old
Jewish Priesthood. The idea is that a few have a special
anointing and have more authority and a better connection to
God. The rest have to blindly follow their lead or suffer the
consequences. This is why people go off chasing “special”
preachers and prophets. They are trying to catch the
“special” anointing, and receive the upper level blessings that the
folks back home missed out on.
It wasn’t just the disciples that thought Jesus was setting up an
earthly kingdom. The Jews thought so too.
They were watching him and they were afraid he was going to stir up the
Romans. If he angered the Roman’s, those in power would loose
their positions, power and maybe their lives. Over in the
book of Luke chapter seventeen, verse twenty, Jesus was asked by some
Pharisees when he was planning to establish his kingdom. He
again was plain in his explanation:
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when
the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom
of God cometh not with observation:
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there!
for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Of course they did not believe him and still expected him to try to
take Jerusalem by force. When multitudes began to follow him
everyone expected him to raise an army out of the crowd and storm the
When Jesus was arrested and taken before Pilate he was accused of being
the “king of the Jews” Look at John chapter
eighteen, verse thirty three:
John 18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again,
and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
John 18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of
thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Joh 18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own
nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:
if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I
should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from
Again, Jesus plainly states that he was not setting up a physical
kingdom. He kept saying it but nobody got
it. Even after he was killed, rose again and was
preparing to ascend into heaven the disciples still expecting him to
establish a physical earthly kingdom. Look at Acts chapter
one, verse six. This is just moments before the
ascension of Jesus:
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked
of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom
They had been told multiple times but even after the resurrection they
still didn’t get it. Notice that Jesus doesn’t explain it
again, he just tells them to wait for the coming of the Holy Ghost, the
Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, also know as the Spirit
Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the
times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy
Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost
part of the earth.
Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they
beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The disciples waited in hiding because they were afraid of the
Jews. They waited, still expecting Jesus to return to set up
an earthly kingdom. Read the book of Acts and Galatians. You
will find that the Jerusalem church never did get it. They
received and were indwelled with the spirit but continued living under
the law. They did their best to take the law to all who could
be subdued by it. The gospel of Christ was given to
Paul. Paul called it the mystery. It is Christ in
you. The Jerusalem church hierarchy chased, persecuted and
harassed Paul for the rest of his life. And it continues
Jesus said: “It shall not be so among you.” The nations do
it, the Jews did it but the church should not be subjugating one
another. There is only one head of the
church: Jesus Christ. The rest of us are brethren
and every joint supplies.
Let’s wrap this up with another conversation of Jesus. Look
at Luke chapter twenty two, verse twenty-four. I’ll give you
a second or two to get there. The setting of this passage is
the Passover meal. It is the occasion we commonly call the
last supper. Jesus has just told his disciples that one of
them would soon betray him and he would shed his blood for them. In the
midst of his passionate pouring out of his heart the disciples were
busy arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom they
expected Jesus to set up:
Luke 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of
them should be accounted the greatest.
Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them
are called benefactors.
Luke 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest
among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that
Luk 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or
he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as
he that serveth.
How plain can it be? Jesus said: It shall
not be so among you. Yet today the argument that started
among the twelve still rages on. Who’s going to be the
boss? Who has authority over others? Whose
anointing is greater? Who does God like best?
Follow my rules or else. My building is bigger than yours so
my truth must be better than yours.
It’s all a distraction to keep us from seeing the simplicity of Christ
in us. We all have the very same anointing: Christ
in you the only hope of glory. No one has a better anointing
than you. Any who claim a special anointing should be asked:
Which god (with a small “g”) did you get it from? There is
only one anointing from the father of Jesus Christ: The
spirit of Christ, the Holy Ghost: The Comforter. As He lives
in and through us we manifest Him. We carry out his
ministry: The ministry of reconciliation.
He is the one master; the rest of us are all brethren, joint heirs,
full sharers of the inheritance of Jesus. There is no higher
If the son has set you free, you are free indeed.