Collide Series Devotion: Unexpected Collision

Unexpected Collision
By Sarah Anderson

Matthew 20:20-29
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.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.23 And he saith unto them,Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.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.29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to have an encounter with Jesus? Have you ever imagined what it must have felt like to have Jesus heal your disease, cure your sickness and come to your defense? I have. I have spent lots of time imagining even the possibility of just one exchange with the Son of God, because there is no doubt about it, anyone who felt the presence of Jesus left changed. For nearly every person who encountered Him, there was a happy ending that followed. For nearly everyone…but not everyone. There were a couple of exceptions.

In fact, in Matthew chapter 20, we see a rather bizarre and interesting encounter between Jesus and the mother of two of His disciples. Here, the mother of John and James approaches Jesus and makes a request on behalf of her sons. So what does this proud mom ask of the Son of God? Matthew says it this way: “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”. (Matthew 20:21b)

To people living in 1st century Israel, they would have understood exactly what the mother of John and James was asking. She wanted her sons to be honored. She wanted them to be recognized and praised and esteemed for their status. It was a bold request. To her it must not have seemed like that big of deal. I mean, if Jesus was able to turn water into wine, raise people from the dead and multiply some fish and bread to feed thousands, then surely what she was after couldn’t have been that big of a deal. So she did what we just started talking about doing this past week. She collided. She put herself in a position to collide with the Son of God and made a request.

And Jesus said, “No.”

These typically aren’t the stories we spend time focusing on when it comes to studying Scripture. But we can’t deny they are in there. Here, this woman makes a decision to collide with Jesus and she walks away not having received what she came for.

So what does this mean for you? Don’t ask for an assigned seat next to Jesus in heaven? No. I don’t think that is the point of this story. I think the point is bigger than that, deeper than that, more meaningful than that. See, while we have been talking about colliding, about walking away changed, there is the temptation to think that when we do collide—when we put ourselves in a position to be changed—we start to believe that change has more to do with what we want that change to be, and not what God intends that change to be.

The mother of James and John boldly put herself in a position to collide. She saw what this man, this teacher her boys had dedicated their lives to following, was capable of. And so she decided to put herself in the path of a collision, but only because she had an end in mind for what would happen after having collided with Him. For a lot of the stories in Scripture, Jesus said “Yes.” “Lord, open my eyes. Lord, cure my leprosy. Lord, cleanse my son. Lord, raise my daughter.” And Jesus did it. But tucked in the pages of the New Testament are also some stories where Jesus didn’t do what was asked. Because sometimes the change people wanted wasn’t the change He wanted in them.

When Jesus told the mother of James and John that he would not grant the request she made, He was reminding her, and reminding us, that He isn’t a genie. He isn’t a magician. He is God. And as God He has something in mind for you that may be different than what you have in mind for yourself.

And sometimes, when we put ourselves in the path of a collision, while we are guaranteed to see change, it may not always look like the change we anticipate. Colliding isn’t about getting the guts to pray for, ask for or work for the end we have in mind. Colliding is about putting yourself at the mercy of a God who has bigger plans than you have ever imagined and bigger purposes than you can dream of—who is bigger than any collision we can dream up. It doesn’t mean you always get the answer you want. It does mean you get the thrill and the excitement of trusting God to determine exactly what you could and should learn from colliding, from intersecting with the people in your path and thus, with God.

Colliding is scary—even more so when you aren’t exactly sure how the encounter will result. Putting yourself in a place where you collide means embracing mystery and some uncertainty. But it also means embracing the God who is strong enough, big enough and powerful enough to be involved in the process. Who knows how a collision will leave you. Who knows the person you will be at the end of the process. Those things may not be for us to decide. But the good news is you can trust the God who does decide—who is involved in and encourages you to live a life in the path of a collision.

We may not always get the answer we want. But we will always get the God we need, who is in the process of making us into the people He needs.

20 thoughts on “Collide Series Devotion: Unexpected Collision

  1. Melanie Mentzer

    This story is such a great reminder that shows us that at times God is going to say “No” to us, because although we make think we know what’s best for us, He knows a whole lot more! I love how Jesus responded to John and James mother! She had asked Jesus if John and James could sit next you Jesus in heaven because they are His disciples and because of all the great things they have done/ are doing, but Jesus said to her that she doesn’t know what shes asking. He asked the boys if they were able to drink the cup, the cup of God’s wrath, that Jesus was about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism I am bapztized with? The baptism Jesus was reffering to was a baptism of suffering. He was reffering to His death. Not like the baptism we as Christians undergo to represent the death, burrial, and ressurection. I love how Jesus put this. He was saying you don’t understand what your “simple request” is asking. The boys said that they were able to do so. So Jesus told them that they in fact will drink MY cup, and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with. Then He said that it is not up to Him whethere they are worthy or not to sit on His right hand and on His left hand, it’s up to His father, God. Later on in the bible we find out that James was beheaded by King Herod and John was tortured and banished from Patmos(Asia). This shows that the two boys did drink the cup of God’s wrath because God chose so! I think this is a great example of exactly what we’re talking about. Like the commentary said, most of the time we think about how change can be best in our lives and not how it can be best because God wants it that way. One thing really grabbed a hold of my heart from last nights message, “Change only happens when we put ourselves in a position to be changed.” We can want to change all we want, but unless our heart is in wanting to change and we have the right attitude and mindset, we can’t put ourselves in a position to change. I know one thing that I kept thinking about last night during the message was how I need to be bold when it comes to being a disciple of Jesus and telling my friends and strangers about God. People tend to intimidate me and I let my insecurites get the best of me sometimes, but I really want to change this, because it’s so important and it bugs me that I let this happen.. My heart needs to be in it and I need to have the right attitude and go at it and say, “I don’t care what happens, I need to do this so I can see more people I love spend an eternity with God and not separated from Him.” I know that if I put myself in the position to be changed, I can collide with Jesus and really do some amazing things!

    “Be intentional with colliding!” 🙂

  2. I think this story is pretty awesome, even though Jesus said no. The mother of John and James was definitley gutsy for colliding with Jesus, and being so bold asking if her sons could be seated next to Jesus in Heaven. If i were to translate this story into an example into today’s society, i would use fame & money. So many people pray to God about extravegent things, like being a millionaire, or becoming a superstar. God has a plan for each of our lives, and sometimes the things we ask for He doesnt do. But it isn’t because He doesnt love us or want us to be happy, He just has a better plan for our lives! Our greed can get in the way of what truely important, and that’s why i think God says “No” sometimes. Colliding with God though is amazing, because everytime I do, i am impacted in some way. Last night in our small groups, Megan talked to us about examples in the bible where people collided with God and left changed. Some examples my group said were Mary, Noah, and Job. Each had an entirely different collision with the Lord, and each of their lives were changed dramatically! It’s just like our lives. My life got changed when I started coming to Sonshine. I collided with God, and had my heart open to what He wanted to do with my life. And now, I have never felt closer to Him! 🙂 We have to be open, or intentional, to colliding because GREAT things can happen!

    1. Hey ally, the best way to understand this is to read the commentary below the verses & the comments from everyone 🙂
      Why do you think Jesus said “no” to the mother? Why do you think God sometimes doesnt give us the things we ask for?

        1. Melanie

          It starts in verse 25, but Jesus was teaching His 12 disciples that instead of acting like they are better then everyone else and acting like they were greater, like most of those in high authority do, they need to treat people with kindness and act like servents to the other people just like Jesus did. He was trying to teach them the importance of how they need to serve others and be Christ-like. Why do you think this was so important to Jesus and put in along with this story?

          1. Because he wonts us to act like him and do as he did and also cause that is right thing todo and if we wont to be like him and for us to go down the right path witch is Jesus’s path

          2. You’re right Kendra… There is a verse later on in the Bible that says,

            .5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  3. ZacharyAndrew2

    Sometimes the change that I want is not always best for me! I seem to think I know how to plan out my life and I can make the choices, and I can pick the path I need to be on and I can do it on my own, cause I’m in control of my life and I know the change that is best for me! Do we see how self centered that is! God knows exactly the change I need. So we should change our thinking to God you know what’s best for me, you can change me the way you want to, you can have my plans and make them your, you can have my future and design it the way you want it too look, I offer up my change and my life to you! This is the attitude we should have! So when God tries to change us and its difficult because usually change is and usually God changes me in different ways than I planned, we should resopnd with greatfulness and thank God for the change he is making, and allow him to use us and put us right where he wants us!

  4. Megan

    I can view this as a parent that I want the best for my kids and I can understand why she might want to ask Jesus (who is able) to give them sweet places in heaven. I also understand that this is a pretty hearty request to be made.

    I often think of an accident when I hear the word collide. When you know it’s coming your body gets tense and that can sometimes cause more pain because your muscles are all flexed and can be damaged that way.

    When we collide with Jesus like this mother did we need to be willing (relaxed) to what is going to happen. We need to allow Jesus to do what He knows is best for us even thought it may not always be in OUR plans. “His ways are higher than my ways” is what the Bible says. Do we really Believe that with our actions and intensions? Do we really believe His ways really are better for us? If we do then we are going to live different than others are living.

    There also is a push for being a servant. We are not in this to see which Christian is the best one but to be like Christ, humbled and here to serve others. It is such a rewarding experience and life to serve those around you.

    My application is: am I serving others like Christ served others? And am I believing Gods direction for my life is better than my own? I want to make His will my own by removing my desires and asking for His. I also need to take the opportunities that I know already exist to be a servant to others and then ask for more opportunities.

  5. Ryan via

    It’s good that I don’t make the big decisions because I would be In a lot of trouble. I think it’s important to be open to and except what God has for you and trust him. In order for us to collide we have to be open and have faith that what He has in store for you is the right thing. What I got from the verses is that what I think is best for my life isn’t always and that it is going to take a lot of faith, but it will be worth it in the end.

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