SITTING ON JESUS' RIGHT AND LEFT HAND
IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
As they went on their way towards Jerusalem, the mother of
the sons of Zebedee (James and John) came before Jesus and
kneeling asked Him for something. "What do you want?" Jesus
responded to her, and she said, "Teacher, we want you to do
whatsoever we ask of you."
"Well, then what is it that you want me to do?" Jesus again
The mother of James and John then finally came out with what
she and her sons wanted, "Grant Lord that these two sons of mine
may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in
"Oh, you do not know what you are asking for," answered
Jesus. "Can you drink of the cup that I drink, and be baptized
with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
And they said to Him, "Yes Lord, we are able!"
Jesus then responded with, "Indeed, you will drink of the
cup that I drink from, and be baptized with the baptism that I am
baptized with; but to sit, one at my right hand, and one at my
left hand, is not mine to grant; but it is for those for whom it
has been prepared for by my Father."
The disciples would indeed partake of the life of Jesus,
they would drink what He was living. Drink and eat the physical
life as a servant of God. And they would be baptized with the
Holy Spirit (as we'll see when we come to the first chapters of
the book of Acts) as Christ was and do many of the same works
that He did through the power of the Holy Spirit. They would
partake of Christ in a very real and personal way, but what
these two disciples wanted (and their mother also) was not Jesus'
And when the ten other disciples heard all this they were
very indignant towards James and John.
And Jesus called them all to Himself and said, "You know
that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over the people, and
their leaders and kings and great men, exercise dictatorial
authority over them. But it shall NOT be so among you! Whoever
would be great among you must be your servant. And whoever would
be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of man came
and set you the example. He came not to be served but to serve,
and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mat.20: 20-28; Mark
Here we see that there will be "positions" in the Kingdom
when Jesus returns to establish it upon the earth. We also see
that the Father in heaven has reserved for Himself certain
positions of authority that only He will decide who will receive
them. We know from other Scriptures of the Old Testament that
king David of ancient Israel will rise in the resurrection and be
king over the restored 12 tribes of Israel. We have seen that
Jesus did have authority to promise to the twelve disciples that
they would each rule over a tribe of Israel. But, who is going to
sit at Jesus' right hand and left hand, was not for Jesus to say
or to give away those positions. Only the Father would determine
who would be given those seats of authority in the Kingdom.
When we think of all the great people of God down through
the millenniums of time, is it any wonder then that only the
Father could determine who shall receive those two positions of
sitting on the right and left hand of Jesus in the Kingdom on
We also note here a VERY IMPORTANT teaching of Christ.
Whoever was, or whoever desired to be, the greatest among God's
people at any particular time in history, had to become, MUST
become, the servant of all, the slave to all the rest of the
people of God. They had to become like Christ Himself, who came
not to be vain and pompous and mentally and emotionally smug over
all people, but came to give Himself in service and loving
sacrifice to all people. Just think how many hours Jesus spent in
a week and in His entire ministry in giving and to serving
others. Think about the love and compassion He gave out towards
others. Think about all the time He spent in teaching others and
His disciples, to know the truths of God, and to understand the
mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
So it must be, so must those who would be "great" among the
people of God do as Jesus did....serve and sacrifice for and
towards God's people. That is the mark of greatness according to
Christ. Greatness is NOT exercising dictatorial authority over
people, bossing them around, and telling them what to do and when
to do it.
Greatness is being kind, patient, loving, helping, serving,
and teaching God's word with all of those attributes, as a person
moves among the children of God.
BLIND BARTIMAEUS IS HEALED
Jesus and the disciples had arrived at Jericho. As they were
leaving a great crowd was following them as usual. On the
roadside they came across two blind men, sitting and begging.
Now, Matthew's account says there were two blind men. The
accounts of Mark and Luke only mention one man, someone who it
seems was well known for whatever reasons, as his name is given
as Bartimaeus - "blind Bartimaeus" in the popular speech of the
Possibly Mark and Luke only record this healing as if one
man was involved, because Bartimaeus was the spokesman for the
two men, and because he was the most famous of the two.
Bartimaeus was known as the son of Timaeus, who then was
probably a man very well known in the community. When Jesus came
close Bartimaeus called out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on
me and on us." Many started to rebuke him and told him to be
silent. But he cried out even the more, "Son of David, Lord have
mercy on us."
Jesus stopped walking, stood and said, "Call the blind man
over to me." And they did call him over saying, "Take heart blind
man, He is calling for you to come to Him." Throwing off his coat
Bartimaeus sprang to his feet like someone being chased by a
lion, and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, "What do you want
me to do?"
"Oh, Master, let our eyes be opened so we can have sight."
And Jesus, looking with kind compassion at him, touched their
eyes and said, "Go your way; your faith has made you well."
Their sight was restored immediately, but they did not run
off to their separate homes, they instead followed Jesus,
glorifying God. And when all the people saw what had happened
they also praised and gave glory to God. (Mat.20: 29-34; Mark 10:
46-52; Luke 18: 35-43).
ZACCHAEUS A TAX COLLECTOR IS CONVERTED
Jesus was still not far out of Jericho, just on the edge of
the town limits. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a
chief tax collector, and through craftiness he had become very
rich. He wanted to see Jesus but he could not as he was a short
man in stature and could not see over the heads and shoulders of
the crowd. He was not going to give up that easy though. He
decided he would run on ahead and climb up a sycamore tree to see
When Jesus arrive at the sycamore tree that Zacchaeus had
climbed, He looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly;
for I must stay at your house today and for the night."
You can imagine how quickly Zacchaeus came down. He was
thrilled that Jesus would be staying in his house. He would get
to see Him up close for some number of hours. His heart beat like
a race horse ready to run a race. He was overjoyed at what
Jesus had told him.
But, some in the crowd, who hated people who collected taxes
for the Roman Government, murmured with some indignation at what
Jesus was going to do. "Why," they said, "he is going to be a
guest of a man who is a sinner, this is terrible!"
When they all arrived at the house of Zacchaeus, he said to
Jesus, "Behold Lord, the half of my goods I will give to the
poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I will restore
it to them even four times as much."
Jesus smiled with a happy heart and said, "Today salvation
indeed has come to this house, since this man is also a son of
Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which
was lost" (Luke 19: 1-10).
Yes, what often seems hopeless to mankind, is what God can
turn around and makes salvation from. Zacchaeus thought he would
only see Jesus from up a tree and nothing else would happen. Many
within the crowd thought Jesus was doing wrong by befriending a
despised tax collector. Everyone was wrong. God the Father and
Jesus His Son were about to convert and bring a man to salvation.
Nothing is impossible with God.
Some times in being converted, it is right and proper to
make restitution to some people we may have wronged, if it is
within our power to do so. We must realize that it is not always
within our power to restore, for some people may have moved away
and we have no possible means whereby we can locate them. God
does not expect that we can right every wrong we may have done to
people over our life time, but in some situations it may be
possible, and if so, then we should make an effort to give
restitution. And the example here given for us, which Jesus did
not disagree with, was that, restitution would be far above the
amount fraudulently taken. The example here also is that if you
are very rich, you will, when converted to follow Christ Jesus,
give a great part of your wealth to the poor. We will note "poor"
is the first priority, the "church" would be second, although
there are indeed many "poor" within the community of the church,
which would be grateful for a helping hand.
PARABLE OF THE POUNDS
As they heard these things He proceeded to tell a parable,
because He was getting near to Jerusalem, and they supposed that
the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So He taught them
saying, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive kingly
power and then to return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave
them 50 dollars, and said to them, 'Trade with this money till I
come again.' But his own citizens hated him and sent an embassy
of men after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over
When he returned, having received kingly power and
authority, he commanded the servants to whom he had given the
money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had
gained by trading.
And the first came to him and said, 'Lord, your 50 dollars
has gain 50 dollars more.' And he said, 'Well done, good and
faithful servant. Because you have been faithful in very little,
you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came,
saying, 'Lord, your 50 dollars has gained 25 more dollars.' And
the king said to him, 'You shall have authority over 5 cities.'
Then another came and said, 'Lord, here is your 50 dollars,
which I looked after and kept safe in a steel box at home. For I
was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what
you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' The king
replied to him, 'I will condemn you out of your own mouth you
wicked servant! You knew I was a severe man, taking up what I did
not lay down, and reaping where I did not sow. Why then did you
not put my money into the bank at least, and at my coming, I
should have collected it with some interest?'
And he said to those who stood nearby watching and hearing
all this, 'Take the 50 dollars from him, and give it to him who
gained the 50 dollars more.' And they said to him, 'Lord, he
already gained 50 dollars!' The king answered, 'I tell you, that
every one who has will be given more; but from him who has not,
even what he has will be taken away. And as for those enemies of
mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and
slay them before me.' "
And when Jesus had said all this, He went on His way,
heading for the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19: 11-28).
This parable teaches us a number of things. It was a parable
Jesus gave to tell His disciples that the Kingdom of God was not
going to appear as soon as they perhaps thought. They looked for
it to come while Jesus was still on earth, and to come in the
very near future of their life time. Jesus was here dispelling
such an idea, yet still not giving any specifics as to when in
time, the Kingdom would come. Hence of course many
disciples would still have thought, even after Jesus had ascended
back to heaven, that the Kingdom would come in the life time of
many of the first century disciples.
This is also a parable that shows all disciples get the same
gift to work with. The only gift that is equal among disciples of
Jesus is the gift of ETERNAL LIFE! Upon repentance and
conversion everyone is given this same equal gift. But from then
on God expects us to use it, to go on from there with that gift
and work in different ways with it, to increase yourself
spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and also to use whatever else
God has given us in ways of physical gifts and talents, to
increase what He had first given us. If we do increase, we shall
be rewarded with positions of authority in the Kingdom of God.
How much we increase will determine how much authority we are
given in the Kingdom.
But, if we think we can stand still, only keep what is first
given to us at conversion, if we think we do not have to move at
least a little more forward in spiritual growth, we are one day
going to have a rude awakening. If we think we can wrap up God's
gift of eternal life in a little box and simply keep it safe and
not use it after we are given it, then even that which we think
we have safely preserved, will be taken away from us. We shall
be on the outside looking in as they say. We shall find ourselves
as one of those who in earlier parables that Jesus gave, are
crying and gnashing their teeth, saying, "Lord, did we not
worship you, did we not go to church, did we not have you in our
home, and sitting at our table at meal times?" And Jesus will
say, "Depart from me, for I never knew you....."
Yes, as I've said before, some of the teachings of Jesus,
cut right to the bone, and they are often not what most teachers
of Christian theology want to tell you. They are often the parts
of the Gospels that are neglected and/or completely ignored by
far too many who claim to be reading the Bible. We need to be
willing to read the Bible from cover to cover, and let it teach
and correct us, inspire and admonish us, encourage and lift us
up, but also let it warn us.
And speaking of warning, there is in this parable also a
clear warning signal Jesus was wanting to get across. Those who
will not let Jesus "reign" over them, rule them, tell them how to
live, allow Him to direct their lives in the godly way they
should go, shall be one day slain before His presence. This
ultimate slaying of the unruly wicked will come just before the
arrival of the new heavens and new earth (see the last verses of
Revelation 20), when all the wicked will die in the lake of fire,
which the New Testament calls "the second death."
We must not only accept Jesus as our personal SAVIOR, but
also as our LORD and MASTER. We must let Him reign and rule in
our lives, letting Him and His word guide, teach, and lead us
into the way of thinking, speaking, and doing, that is pleasing
to Him and to the Father in heaven.
LAZARUS IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD
AND DEATH IS SLEEP
This next section of Scripture is very important in two
respects. It teaches the "resurrection from the dead" and it
teaches "death is a sleep."
It came to pass as Jesus and His disciples were going on
their journey up to Jerusalem, that a certain man named Lazarus
became ill. He was the brother to two sisters named Mary and
Martha. Now, it is John in his Gospel account, that tells us that
this Mary was none other than the woman who anointed Jesus feet
with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair. We read all about
that situation in an earlier chapter.
The two sisters sent to Jesus a message saying, "Lord, he
whom you love is very ill." They expected Jesus to immediately
come and heal their brother.
Jesus on hearing this news said, "This illness is not unto
death; it is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be
praised and glorified by means of it." Jesus of course knew what
was going to happen and what significance it would portend for
all who would witness the event and the outcome.
Jesus, did love all three of those people, Mary, Martha, and
Lazarus. He heard the news about the illness of lazarus, but did
not immediately start off to go to heal him. Probably to the
bewilderment of His disciples He stayed two days longer where
they were at, after hearing the news concerning Lazarus. Then
perhaps they were not surprised He did not go immediately to
Lazarus, for they knew He was in danger if He stepped into
Judea, as Lazarus lived in Bethany which was inside the area
known as Judea. We gather this from some of the words they said
which we shall come to shortly. Yet, as they knew Jesus was
heading for Jerusalem in Judea anyway, it seems they were
somewhat very confused about the whole situation of Jesus wanting
to go up to Jerusalem. You must remember that even when Jesus
told them about His being handed over to the religious
authorities and finally being put to death, but rising from the
dead, at Jerusalem, they did not understand it at all. So indeed
they were probably very confused about everything that was going
on in Jesus' life at that present time.
Well, two days after getting the news about Lazarus, He
said to His disciples, "Let us go into Judea again."
"Why, Master, the Jews there were recently seeking to stone
you, and are you really wanting to go there again?" said His
"Are there not twelve hours in a day?" replied Jesus, "If
any man walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees
the light of this world. But if any person walks in the night, he
stumbles, because the light is not in him."
Jesus was telling them that while He was still alive and
walking, there was work for Him to do, so others could come to
see the light of God's truth and salvation. It was also a mild
rebuke that they could not yet see the light of day, they were
still in the blindness of the night.
Then He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has FALLEN a
SLEEP. But I go to awake him out of sleep."
"Well Lord, " the disciples replied, "if he has fallen
asleep, he will rest and recover."
The truth is Jesus was speaking about his death, but they
thought He was meaning Lazarus had taken a rest in sleep, as we
do at night time, or at other times when we are tired and
sometimes taking a "cat nap."
Then Jesus said plainly to them, "What I am saying to you is
that Lazarus is DEAD! And for your sakes I'm glad I was not
there, so that you may believe even the more. Let us go to him."
At least Thomas, called the Twin, was beginning to see what
it was all going to end with, it was beginning to sink into the
mind of Thomas at least, that Jesus would now probably die in
some fashion in Judea. He said to the other disciples, "Come on
then, let us go also into Judea with Him, and let us die there
with Him also."
Jesus arrived at Bethany to find that Lazarus had been dead
in the tomb or grave for FOUR DAYS. Bethany was near Jerusalem,
only about two miles away. Many Jews from Jerusalem and the area
had come to console Mary and Martha concerning the death of their
brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she ran to meet
Him, while Mary sat in their house.
On meeting Jesus Martha said to Him, "Lord, if you had been
here my brother would not have died. Yet, even now I know that
whatsoever you ask from the Father, God will give it to you."
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again!"
"Oh, yes Lord," replied Martha, "I know my brother will rise
again in the resurrection at the last day."
"You know, do you not Martha," answered Jesus, "that I am
the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he
die, yet shall he live, and he who believes and lives in me,
shall not die forever. Do you believe this?" She said to Him,
"Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the
one promised to come into the world."
After this conversation Martha went quietly to her sister
Mary, telling her that Jesus was asking to see her. And when Mary
heard this she rose up quickly and went to Him. The Jews in the
house followed Mary thinking she was going to weep some more at
Lazarus' grave site.
Mary came to where Jesus was and fell at His feet, saying to
Him, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died."
Jesus saw Mary and the Jews with her weeping in great
anguish, and He was deeply moved in spirit, and said to them,
"Where have you laid him?" And they answered, "Lord, come with us
As Jesus was going with them to the grave where Lazarus was
laid to rest, we have the shortest verse in the Bible, but one
that shows us that there are times when it is right and proper
for MEN as well as women to literally cry, for John records for
us these words, "Jesus WEPT."
And some the Jews there said among themselves, "Ah, do you
see how he loved this man."
But others said, "Why, if he loved him so, this man who
could open the eyes of the blind, surely could he not have
stopped Lazarus from dying?
Then Jesus was deeply moved once more on hearing all this
talk among the people. He came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a
great huge stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone."
Martha, being surprised at what Jesus was now telling them
to do, said, "Lord, there will be a terrible smell, for Lazarus
has been dead four days now." Jesus responded with, "Did I not
tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" So
they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes towards
heaven and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I
know that you hear me always, but I have said this on account of
the people standing by, that they may believe that you did indeed
And after saying this, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus,
COME ON OUT!"
There was a shock that went through the minds of all
standing there, they froze in their stand, many mouths dropped
open, eyes were glued on the entrance to the cave.
Could this man really raise someone from the dead after they had
been dead four days, was the question that was now on everyone's
mind. There was hushed silence as all were steadfastly looking to
see if Lazarus would walk out of the cave.......more seconds
went by.....THEN, to the amazement of every person there, Lazarus
CAME OUT! He was once more alive. People were again frozen in
their minds and speech for a few seconds at what they were
seeing, then gasps of surprise filled the air, some fell to the
ground on their knees, praising God, others looked at one another
in astonishment, as they realized the power this man called Jesus
had, even power over death.
Lazarus was bound with bandages over the hands and feet, in
the manner that the Jews buried their dead. It was not at all
like a large piece of cloth put over a body, but wound around
bandages that were used over parts of the body like the hands and
the legs and feet, even the face and head. Lazarus could not
unwrap himself, so Jesus told them to unwrap the bandages and let
him go free.
What joy and praising God there was that day, when Jesus
raised Lazarus from the grave after his body had started to
decompose after being dead four days.
Here, as I've said, is one of the great Bible passages, that
tells us plainly that death is a SLEEP. We do NOT continue to
live after death in some heaven, hell, or purgatory, with an
immortal soul we are born with. Death is a sleep, a time to rest
in sleep, as we do at night time, waiting until the resurrection
day, to be raised back to life once again. Lazarus was raised
back to life as a physical person, to live and eat and breath
again, as he did before. Lazarus later died once more, as we all
do eventually, and is again sleeping till the resurrection day.
The resurrection that Martha knew about, and told Jesus she knew
her brother would rise in a resurrection at the last day, is what
the Bible calls the "first resurrection" (Rev.20), and this is
the resurrection that all saints and children of God will rise up
in. It is the resurrection day, at the coming of Christ in glory,
as I've mentioned and given Scriptures for, in previous chapters
of this New Testament Bible Story.
JESUS IS CONDEMNED BY THE JEWISH COUNCIL
Many Jews had come from various parts of the region to Mary
and Martha's home and had witnessed this great miracle Jesus had
done in resurrecting Lazarus from the dead after four days of
laying in the tomb. And many of those Jews believed in Jesus as
the Messiah to come, that was foretold in the pages of the Old
Testament prophets. But other Jews still not ready to accept
Jesus, went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together the
council or Sanhedrin (the body of men who ruled on certain
aspects of the Jewish religious life), and said, "What are we to
do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him continue
doing this, soon everyone will believe in him, and the Romans
will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation."
They thought that if the people all believed in Jesus, they
would want Him to be their king and leader in a revolution
against the Roman yoke of servitude, and so bring on the Jewish
nation the full armies of Rome, in a battle that could only mean
utter destruction for the Jews. This was of course wrong
thinking, as Jesus would never have been a part of such a
revolution and would never have allowed the Jews to try to use
Him in such a revolution against Rome.
Then a man named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,
said to them, "You speak about things you know nothing at all
about. You do not understand that it is often best and expedient
that ONE MAN should die for the people, and not that the whole
nations should perish." Now, he did not say this of his own mind,
but being high priest that year he actually was prophesying that
Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but
to gather into one family the children of God who are scattered
abroad in all nations.
So from that day forward they took counsel and sat around
figuring out how to put Jesus to death.
Jesus knowing and hearing what the Jewish Sanhedrin was
trying to plan, no longer went about among the people in an open
manner, but went from there to the country near the wilderness,
to a town called Ephraim; and there He stayed with His disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews, the feast that God gave to the
people of Israel under Moses, was soon to be observed, and many
went up from the country-side to Jerusalem before the Passover
began in that city, to work through the purification rites,
and so ceremonially purify themselves as directed under the laws
They were looking for Jesus as they stood around in the
Temple courtyards, knowing it was Jesus' custom to attend the
Passover in the city of Jerusalem. Many were saying among
themselves, "Well, what do you think? Will he or will he not come
this year to the feast?"
The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if
any one knew where He was, he should let them know, so they might
arrest Him" (John 11: 45-57).
The air was tense with excitement and various emotions, in
anticipation that Jesus would come to observe the Passover in
Jerusalem as usual. Most at this time were for Him, that is they
were on His side, as we say. They knew He was a mighty miracle
worker, more and more were believing He was the promised Messiah.
Yet, they did not understand why He had come to earth this first
time. They did not understand the prophecies in the Old Testament
concerning His first appearing on earth, even Jesus' disciples
did not understand them, and most thought that being the Messiah
He would deliver them from the Roman Empire, make the Jewish
nation great and mighty, and so eventually the leading nation on
The people were hoping that this is what Jesus would now
begin to do.....lead the Jewish nation out from under the Roman
yoke, and give them world dominance. The people were ready for
such a leader, to lead and deliver them from their enemies. The
emotional excitement in their hearts and minds was so high and so
thick for everyone to see, that as we say, you could "cut the
air" with a knife, and hand portions of excitement around to all
entering the Temple and even setting foot into the city of
Would Jesus come was the big question on all minds. If He
would they would surely be ready to greet Him in a mighty and
glorious way. They would not have long to wait for their answer
to their question.
Written December 2002
All studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published, emailed, and
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