Can You Drink This Cup?

A reflection from Matthew 20:20-23

“Then the motherof the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking.Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left [, this] is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

My son, Mark, has gotten it into his head lately that he would REALLY like to build a rocket booster that he can strap to his back, shoot to the moon, and get some moon dust. He and his brother, Luke, have an ongoing debate about whether the moon dirt is more gray than white, or the other way around. My money is that it’s more yellow. Every day Mark works on his jet pack just a bit. Yesterday He asked me to drill a hole in the bottom of the wood he screwed together so that it will eventually hold a rocket booster. Before the jet pack and rocket booster he wanted me to help him build a boat and motor…from scratch!, and before that an airplane, again, from scratch. If only everyone believed so much and had such confidence in my ability! 🙂

I think my son Mark is a lot like the mother of the sons of Zebedee. I often find myself telling him, “Son, you don’t know what you’re asking!” I love his enthusiasm, his confidence, and especially his faith in me. He believes in me more than anyone else in the world–even if that means he asks for things quite beyond my pay grade! Both Mark and the mother of the sons of Thunder have much to teach us today as we continue our journey through the Season of Lent.

What confidence this mother has, and what faith to so boldly approach Jesus with her request. She is unafraid to ask Jesus for her heart’s desire! Let us too approach Jesus with our biggest hopes and ask Him to fulfill our greatest dreams and desires. Also, we should never be afraid to ask Jesus for what we want, but be willing to trust that what we want may not be what we need at this time…or ever. Our vision is often limited by our experience and limited imagination, and our God is always a God who always gives us more than we could ever imagine, but never more than we can handle with His help and guidance.

What confidence also the Sons of Zebedee have in their own ability to handle whatever lies before them. “Can you handle it?” Jesus asks. “We can!” they respond. I can’t tell you the number of times I go to bed entirely confident that I’m going to get up at five a.m. and go for a run. At five a.m., however, when it’s still dark outside, super cold, and my bed is warm, my enthusiasm wanes considerably! But we know how the story goes with Jesus’ disciples too. They abandoned Him when He was arrested and had to carry His cross. They do eventually return, however, and even die for His name, but only in God’s time.

As Lent started we too probably had the enthusiasm of these Sons of Thunder! Lenten sacrifices, Lenten promises, and Lenten awareness of our own weakness and brokenness. God is not calling us to be and do all things. God is instead calling us to be entirely WILLING and courageous enough to be and do all things He asks. God needs us entirely committed to following Him and doing His will. We will undoubtedly struggle with this at first, as we are not yet perfect in holiness. But what matters most to God, I think, is our growth in Holiness from day to day. Our prayer is that tomorrow we will be holier than today.

This process of growth in holiness is what we call sanctification. Each day we must begin anew, recommit ourselves to greater holiness, and be entirely confident of God’s powerful Spirit to complete the good work that God has been begun in us. Every day God looks to me and asks that I do great things that are entirely beyond what I believe I can do. God gives me great gifts that are to be used in His service to more fully manifest His Kingdom on earth. God always asks me to do more than I could ever think possible.

Being faithful to God looks different for each of us as we all grow toward greater holiness. I’m not sure where you are today, but I know with certainty that God wants you closer to Him and will give you the gifts to serve Him in our world. For my part, I need to get home and build a jet pack for a boy who believes in me. Whose jet pack are you building?

By Deacon Stephen Valgos

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