What are you aiming for? Matthew 20.17-34
Where are you heading? When you start your car, you usually do so with the intent of driving to a particular spot. But I’ve been thinking – how about in life? What are you and I aiming for? Are we ambling along, letting our task-filled calendars lead us, with no thought of who and where we would like to be at the end of our journey? Hmmm…
Jesus came with one aim in mind; in this passage, Jesus announces for the third time that his journey is taking him toward the cross.
“Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
Right on the heels of Jesus’ woeful announcement of his soon-coming suffering and death, the purposes of the disciples rise up in stark contrast:
“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons [James and John] and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the 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 your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” Matthew 20.17-34
Jesus set his sights on the Cross so that all may come to him freely, while clearly
the disciples show their desire for position--some power and recognition for having been Jesus’ main men.
We who come 2000 years later must see that following Jesus means we see that the way up is really down. For certain, the Lord left an indelible picture of his values when he took up the basin and the towel and washed the dirty feet of his disciples—just a few short hours before this suffering began. We recognize that greatness is seen in serving – that as Jesus said, ‘the last will be first’ in Heaven. What are you aiming for?
C. S. Lewis had it right when he said:
“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.
Aim at earth and you get neither.”
Or better yet, how about what Jesus had earlier said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”2 These things? Our necessities – what we will eat and how we will clothe ourselves.
‘What does aiming for Heaven look like?’ you ask. It begins with awareness that this life is not all there is, that we are just passing through, and choosing right priorities matters way more than it seems. Moreover, aiming for Heaven means waking up with the notion that today might just be the day the Lord will return! And in realizing Jesus is coming to collect us one day, while the duties of life demand our attention, the priorities of eternity demand our hearts and mind. What will last? What goes forward? What am I aiming at—how about the eternal?
Ha, I remember about 17 years ago, my daughter Amy was in a volleyball huddle in her high school game. The team was losing, the coach was yelling, and I saw her turn around and mouth something. After the game, I asked her what she said. “Mom, I just said the truth. This is like, ugh, so not eternal.” If you know anything about Amy, she was an old soul from the time she was about five years old, and always thinking about the purpose of life, questioning me about such when I tucked her in at night. Her statement on the volleyball court had real merit.
Let’s aim for Heaven, and let’s let that aim color living each day.
1 – C.S. Lewis,
2 – Matthew 6.33