RS/MP Lesson 28: “Service” (Gospel Principles Manual)

As I am wont, I will comment on a handful of scriptures that occur in the lesson. I believe the manual is less authoritative than our scriptural canon, so I like to focus primarily on the underlying scriptures in each lesson. Today I will take up one scripture from each section of the lesson, in order.

1. Matthew 20:26–27

I think the background to this passage is worth discussing (here at least, not necessarily if one is teaching this lesson). Starting in verses 20–21, the mother of James and John asks Jesus if her sons could sit on the left- and right-hand of Jesus in his kingdom. As a relatively new parent, I find this desire on a parent’s part very interesting. It is natural for parents to want the best for their kids, where “the best” is usually understood in terms of the best opportunities, the best schools, the best teachers, getting a successful (i.e., well-paying and prestigious) job, and marrying someone who is successful and makes them happy (and often in that order!).

In verse 22, Jesus suggests that the price of discipleship is high, and James and John affirm their willingness to pay the price. Then, in verse 23 Jesus agrees to let them partake of this price of discipleship—thus fulfilling the mother’s request—but only the Father can grant an inheritance in heaven. I read this as a rather ironic and cheeky response by Jesus.

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