What question does Jesus ask James and John in Mat 20:22, in regard to their misguided request? What does He mean by drinking from the cup that He is about to drink? Cf. Mat 26:39,42, Joh 18:11. What is the spiritual significance of that cup that Jesus drank? Cf. Psa 75:8, Isa 51:17-22, Jer 25:15-17, Joh 19:28-30. Because Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath that was meant for us, what cup of His do we receive? See Psa 16:5, 23:5, 116:13, Luk 22:20, 1Co 10:16. What is the portion of those who will not accept that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for them? See Psa 11:6, Rev 14:10, 16:19, 18:6. What other figure does Mark record that Jesus queried James and John in regard to? See Mar 10:38; cf. Luk 12:50. In what way is baptism a fitting symbol of the suffering Jesus was about to experience, and that those who follow Him will also face? See Rom 6:3, 1Pe 3:20-21, 2Pe 3:5-6; cf. 2Ti 3:12, Luk 9:23.
What was James’ and John’s response to Jesus’ question? See Mat 20:22. As they just previously did not know what they asked, did they now know what they answered? In what way had their mistaken expectations again deluded them, this time in regard to the ease with which they supposed Christ’s kingdom would be established? Might we be like that as we seek to enter His kingdom? How is the confidence of many today like theirs, who seek the glory of a reward and so are quick to affirm the cross, but only lightly consider the sufferings involved with attaining that reward? Cf. Mat 13:5,20-21; contrast Joh 15:20, Act 14:22, 1Th 3:4, 2Ti 3:12, 1Pe 4:12. In what way then is Jesus’ question to James and John also a good question to ask ourselves? Cf. Luk 14:28-33. And what does it teach us about what our expectations must be in regard to the ease with which one is able to enter Christ’s kingdom? Cf. Luk 13:24, 1Co 9:24-27, Phil 2:12-13, 2Pe 1:10. Because of the cross one must bear in order to achieve the promised glory of Christ’s kingdom, instead of beseeching the Lord to bestow upon us the glory of heaven, for what ought we to pray instead? Cf. Luk 22:41-44, Col 1:9-12, 2Th 1:11; cf. 2Th 1:3-5, Act 5:41.
What did Jesus answer James and John in regard to their assertion that they were able to drink His cup? See Mat 20:23, Mar 10:39. In what way did they in particular drink from His cup? See Act 12:2 and note that James was the first of the apostles to be martyred; see also Rev 1:9 and note that tradition says John survived being both cast into boiling oil and forced to drink poison before being exiled to Patmos, so that he is considered the last of the twelve to be subjected to martyrdom, though he in fact did not die from such, and so was the last of the apostles to enter into Christ’s glory.
What did Jesus answer James and John in Mat 20:23 in regard to their request to sit at His right and left in His kingdom? Consider again that the request of these two disciples who were among His closest followers was rebuffed by Jesus; what does this teach us about the “name it and claim it” notion advocated by some that turns faith into an impersonal force by which one may lay hold of anything he or she desires? Cf. Jam 4:3. Is it perhaps significant that in asking amiss, not only did they not receive that for which they had asked and hoped to receive with little personal cost, but they did receive that for which they had not asked and hoped to avoid? See again Mat 19:30, 20:16; cf. Ecc 5:2. Should we be concerned that even if one is to occupy the most lowly place in God’s kingdom it would not be worth whatever suffering we might experience in this life? Cf. Mat 11:11, Psa 84:10.
1. It is good for us to be often putting it to ourselves, whether we are able to drink of this cup, and to be baptized with this baptism. We must expect suffering, and not look upon it as a hard thing to suffer well and as becomes us. Are we able to suffer cheerfully, and in the worst of times still to hold fast our integrity? What can we afford to part with for Christ? How far will we give him credit? Could I find in my heart to drink of a bitter cup, and to be baptized with a bloody baptism, rather than let go my hold of Christ? The truth is, Religion, if it be worth anything, is worth everything; but it is worth little, if it be not worth suffering for. Now let us sit down, and count the cost of dying for Christ rather than denying him, and ask, Can we take him upon these terms? Matthew Henry↩