“Be it unto me according to thy word”

Matthew 20:21–22 (KJV 1900)
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. 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.

This is precisely the opposite of what the majority of those looking to do “great things for God” are seeking. To truly pursue the spiritual ministry that is commanded by Christ means to “drink of his cup” and to be baptized with his baptism.

The mother of James and John was told that she did not know what she was asking. How often do we confuse the ministry of the gospel with honor and glory? Would this mother have requested this if she actually knew what future she was securing for her sons?

This is one reason that it is difficult go down a street in our neighborhoods without walking past ten churches: the church is a place of social and financial mobility, a place where we too often receive psychological rehabilitation without spiritual transformation. The uncalled ministering damnation to the unsaved and the untaught.

Jesus begins to explain that in a world ordered by the principle of evil, spiritual achievement is punished, not rewarded.

Jesus knew that the greatest spiritual advance, the advent of the Son of God, would receive a massive satanic response. Why then are our preachers today the darlings of the world system and the leaders of the ecumenical movement?

The family of Zebedee truly did not know what they were asking, but they would find out when James was killed in the prime of his youth.

Acts 12:1–2 (KJV 1900)
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

The Cup:

There is a cup of the Lord, a cup reserved for the wicked [Matthew 20:20-28; Matt 26:39; Isa 51:17,22; Ps 73:10; 75:8; Jer 25:15].

This cup is one of suffering and judgment, reserved for the wicked, but that Christ drank in our stead. This cup is expiation, the actual payment for sin by receiving the punishment deserved by another.

Matthew 26:39 (KJV 1900)
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Christ willingly drank in its entirety the cup of divine judgment for our sakes. He was the “lamb without spot,” the sin offering of the Levitical System which was killed to cover the sins of the offeror.

There is also a cup of the devil, containing all of the blasphemies and desecration necessary for his service, including blood (Rev 17.1-6). In order to receive the benefits that Satan can give in this world, one must drink of his cup.

Luke 4:5–7 (KJV 1900)
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

The believer cannot die for the sins of mankind. However the believer is called to sacrifice himself for the gospel and the making of disciples. [Col 1.23-24]. This does not necessarily include comfort or celebrity. Salome confused the benefits of this world with those of the Kingdom. True spiritual ministry brought her son James death by the sword and her son John not celebrity but exile [Rev 1.9].

The Baptism

Every baptism in the gospels up to this point has involved water: they have been wet and therefore ritual. Jesus first baptism was ritual, but the one spoken of here is different, it is a real baptism.

Baptism is an identification. L.S. Chafer defines the two uses of the word baptism in the New Testament. The second use is as follows:

In its secondary meaning however… refers to one thing being brought under the transforming influence and power of another thing…the great majority of the New Testament usages of this word are wholly within its secondary meaning”

What was Jesus identified with here? What element exercised a transforming influence over Jesus?

2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV 1900)
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus was identified with sin upon the cross, he became sin for us, on our behalf. This was a real baptism, a “dry” baptism. He did not earn this baptism, nor did he deserve it, but he ‘Permitted it to fulfill all righteousness.”

The sons of Zebedee could not be identified with the sins of mankind as Jesus was upon the cross. However in the devil’s world, the sons of his kingdom are rewarded and the children of God are not. In a world ordered by the principle of evil, spiritual achievement is punished, not rewarded. this is what neither Salome or her sons understood. Jesus disclosed the motivation of the sons of Zebedee and corrected it.

Matthew 20:25–28 (KJV 1900)
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. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Paul clarifies how the believer is identified with Christ’s cup and with Christ’s baptism.

2 Corinthians 4:7–11 (KJV 1900)
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The Cup and the Baptism of Matthew 20 makes the point that genuine spiritual ministry is not about you, it is about Christ and about those for whom he gave his life. 

  • Lucifer told Eve that the spiritual life was all about her: her ideas about the tree, her wisdom, her godhood
  • Jesus told Salome, James and John that the spiritual life was about paying the price so that others could be saved.
  • Lucifer is still saying that the spiritual life is about your financial victory, your health, your fulfillment
  • Jesus is saying that our wealth, our health and our circumstances are tools that God uses to work salvation in the lives of many.

Luke 1:38a (KJV 1900)
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word…

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