- The lust for power is a universal, longstanding appetite. We know
that in our day, many long for control and influence within the
church. But even before the cross, the true colors of two of Jesus'
disciples had already begun seeing the kingdom of God as a political
arena of position and leverage. James and John brazenly said to
Jesus, "We want a special place in your kingdom, Lord. We want
authority, recognition ... power."
We are intrigued not just because James and John wanted power (after
all, just about everyone wants that). What is intriguing is that
James and John actually could have thought Jesus would grant it to
In Matthew 20:21, the Gospel writer tells us that it was the mother
of James and John who made this request. Behind James and John's
desire for power was a pushy mom. Perhaps these aspiring young men
wanted to be the "vice presidents" of Jesus' kingdom because they
felt this would make their mother proud of them.
But let us not lay all the blame on their mother. It is a real
possibility that James and John wanted their special friendship to be
of some "useful" advantage to them in the kingdom of God. Still, it
was sheer folly to press this. Jesus had no special friends, and
granting people the right to govern others was never his agenda.
Jesus wants no one to think of his kingdom as a place for political
maneuvering. We do not accept Christ merely to control others. The
only reason we should want to be close to Jesus is to know the sheer
pleasure of his companionship.
Some still go to church to be seen by "the right people," so that
they may in time become one of "the right people" themselves. But
healthy Christians go to church to be united with Christ, to place
their ambitions at the foot of the cross. Straight thinking disciples
know that power-lust is born from egotism not yet cleansed. For those
in Christ, the longing for prestige is the parent of treachery.
PRAYER Easter is coming, Lord, and with it the reminder that you, who
already possessed your rightful place as King, abandoned your realm
to accept the limitations of ours. It is difficult not to crave power
in this competitive world; but please, Lord, help me crave the
pleasure of your company instead. Ruling over others is far less
significant than loving my life in your presence.