By Larry Ray Hafley
(1) Remember when Zebedee’s wife brought her two sons, James and John, and requested of the Lord, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom” (Matt. 20:20, 21)? The Lord’s opening remark–does it appear impertinent at first glance? Said He, “Ye know not what ye ask.” However in view of the true nature of His kingdom, the statement is a simple and succinct fact.
The practical lady desired a place of prestige, prominence, and preeminence for her sons. She envisioned a kingdom of political power. She bad no doubt that Jesus with His miracle might could establish a kingdom. She wanted her offspring to have “a piece of the action.” Jesus’ response was to the point, “Ye know not what ye ask.” We usually seize upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-28, “he that will be great among you, let him be your minister,” and use these to show the character of the coming kingdom. It is right to do so, but have you ever pondered the phrase, “Ye know not what ye ask?” “The mother of Zebedee’s children” did know what she asked, if the kingdom was “of this world.” She did not know what she asked since the kingdom was a spiritual one. And that is what the Lord’s initial sentence focused upon. Had you ever thought about that aspect of the words, “Ye know not what ye ask?”
(2) In Matthew 16:13-18, the Lord blessed Simon for his confession of Him, saying, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Indeed, “flesh and blood,” men, had not revealed it unto the apostle, “Flesh and blood” said Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other Old ‘Testament prophets. “Flesh and blood” is a reference to the first question Jesus posed, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Though their estimation and evaluation of Jesus was high, it was too low. “Flesh and blood” says “men.” “My Father which is in heaven” says “the Son of God.”
(3) “I cannot abide to hear myself praised, for 1 am a. sworn enemy of all adulation” (Cervantes’ Don Quixote). Most of us- can “abide” to hear ourselves praised. In fact, we tend to tolerate more than we deserve. One should not unduly love “the praise of men,” but there is a place for praise. The Bible so teaches (Prov. 27:2; 1 Cor. 12:26). In moderation, honor should be accepted humbly and graciously. But with praise, as with gifts, we ought to remember that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Back to our introductory quote. Let us engage reverse gear and pull parallel. Does my spirit say, “I cannot abide to hear myself criticized, for I am a sworn enemy of all reproof?” Generally, one who revels in adulation and admiration will scorn any degree of condemnation. “Lord, is it I?”
Truth Magazine XX: 27, p. 418
July 8, 1976