Matthew 20:20-28: The Lie We Believe…

I’m excited to share the first podcast (or audio blog) with you! A number of you requested an audio version … (great to listen to while walking or driving) … so here’s my first attempt! LOTS of grace please—it was a huge learning curve! 😀 Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a podcast version of a post occasionally, but let me know your thoughts below. We’re in this together!

(For those of you who prefer reading as opposed to listening,
the full transcript is available below.)

Contemplations to Go Deeper

Find a quiet place to be with the Lord … a place with no phones binging, no kids shouting, no microwaves beeping. Just q.u.i.e.t.

Ask yourself some questions, take your time, and become curious about your reactions and answers—questions like: Where am I trying to control? Who am I trying to control? Is it helping? What am I scared of? Do I believe God is actively working for my best in all things, all the time? Do I feel alone? Abandoned by God? For a long time, I did. And I came to see that I was believing a lie … that God was not actually IN my life working/orchestrating. To combat that lie, I began studying Scripture verses which spoke the truth. I found actually writing out the Scriptures slowed me down enough to do some deeper thinking. But what helped me in this process was making the Scriptures personal, pasting them on my walls, and memorizing key phrases I found significant. For example, Psalm 46:1, rather than “God is our refuge and strength…” I would write (and meditate on) “You are my refuge and strength…” Or Psalm 62 I wrote as “My soul finds rest in You alone, my healing comes from You. You alone are my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Give it a try. I guarantee God will meet you!


Looking forward to hearing from you!


The Lie We Believe

(Podcast Transcript)

Welcome to the Daughters of Eve podcast … a place for uncovering the truth about God and women.   A place for freedom to grow, as together we’ll search the Scriptures and ourselves for God’s empowering word to women.

I’m so looking forward to connecting with you, encouraging you on your journey, and giving you some helpful tools as we move out and become all God created us to be. On the Daughters of Eve blog we’ve been taking a closer look at the women Jesus encountered. Today, we’re going to take a look at probably the shortest conversation recorded Jesus had with a woman, it was with the mother of James and John.   The mom who raised the two boys nick-named Sons of Thunder. You don’t get a nick-name like that for no reason—so already we have a little sympathy for this woman, right?

By the time Jesus and this woman talk, she has probably become a widow. Scholars believe she was widowed since she is mentioned as one of the women who traveled the countryside with Jesus. Given the culture of that day, a married woman would not have been allowed to leave her husband to trek about the land with a rabbi.  But here’s a couple fun things … when you compare the Gospel stories of the crucifixion and resurrection, we learn that this mother of James and John was also Mary’s sister, which would make Jesus her nephew, and we also learn her name is Salome.

So here’s the short encounter from Matthew’s Gospel…

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons, she knelt down to request something. “What is it you want?” He asked. She said, “Say that these two sons of mine might sit at your right hand and the other at your left hand in your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

The story goes on to tell about how when the other ten disciples got wind of this request they were outraged—probably because they didn’t think of the idea first.  Jesus calls them all over, and you can just about hear the sigh as He explains again how in His Kingdom whoever wants to be the leader must be the slave.

Why would Salome make such a request of Jesus? Was it that she was a widow? Maybe, because in the culture of 1st century Palestine any inheritance she might have received from her deceased husband would not have gone to her, it would have gone to her sons. They could have been her only means of financial support—maybe she was trying to make sure they were in a secure place for her own safety.   Or, maybe she was just trying to influence the coach so her sons could be captain of the team … ensuring both honor and power for her sons? 

Whatever the reason was that she approached Jesus with her request, she was clearly doing her best to control the situation.  Making sure things turned out according to her plan.

It’s the lie we’ve believed since Eden … The lie that says God cannot to be trusted; not really … not with our lives. We don’t believe that God is for us—that God is working for us and orchestrating all things, all the time … for our best!  Instead, we choose to believe the lie which whispers, God isn’t paying any attention … God’s not looking out for you.

And because we believe the lie—that it’s all up to you, to me—we are left with the feeling that we’d better do something about this situation … about this person … and we end up controlling. Sometimes we control a little. Sometimes not so much.

We do this.

We all do this. But WHY? Why do we stay up nights calculating our next move? Why do we  bite down our nails trying to figure out what to say and how to say it?

Well, there are many reasons. But generally, people control because they’re scared.

Scared of being abandoned. Of being alone. Unloved. Scared of being humiliated. Of being worthless, of pain. The list is endless. 

They’re old wounds, probably from childhood, that startle us with their intensity when we feel threatened in some way.

Fear comes in many forms, but most commonly it shows itself in control.

I know it’s true in my life. When I start to feel scared—that I’ll be alone or uncared for … I start to control. People. Situations. It doesn’t matter … control becomes like a “fix” … an attempt to ease the growing fear and anxiety.

Of course, it doesn’t work … it only makes things worse. 

I think Salome was scared that day, because it looks like she decided to take the matter into her own hands and try to control the future … her future.

She’d been following Jesus for months … maybe even years … but her allegiance—her commitment—was still to herself.  She wasn’t the only one trying to control things, you can read the same thing about Peter, and the other disciples too just a few chapters earlier.

Fear messes with us.

But God knows this about us.

Which is why “Do not fear” is the most frequent command in Scripture.

But it is not with a bullying, threatening voice God speaks to us. Don’t hear: “You’d better not be afraid or else.”  Instead, hear gentleness … and tenderness when Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock…” (Luke 12:32) Or “Have courage! It is me. Don’t be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27).  God is patient with this weakness of ours.

And when God’s voice tells us to take courage, it is not simply a “Chins Up Everyone” kind of appeal. No. When God tells us to have courage, it is because our Lord is near. Because God is actively, passionately working for our best … for your best … all the time.  It’s not about us mustering our own strength. It’s about changing who we’re looking at.  Author Edward Welch says it this way, “Fear and worry put the focus on us.”  So, if my eyes are on me, I am fretful, filled with anxiety … and stressed. If my eyes are on Jesus, I remember the things He promised me: “I am with you.” “I will help you.” “I will rescue you.” 

Where I look determines my level of fear. And my level of fear directly affects my obsession to control.

But here’s what I’m beginning to learn.  When the control-fever starts to take over … when the feelings of worry and fear and panic intensify … I am learning to pay attention to myself, and to see those feelings as good things because they can set off an alarm in my head … reminding me that my vision is out of line … my focus is on the wrong person. And that I’m not alone. I’m not abandoned. I’ve got an “active, protecting, comforting” (p. 64) God right beside me.

I think Salome learned that lesson … the lesson of letting go of control and focusing your eyes on the only One who is in control, because the Bible tells us Salome kept on following Jesus right up till she and the other women stood at the foot of the cross … watching, weeping, learning a lesson. And then, three days later, she saw her Lord alive.

So, my sister, next time you’re feeling fear or the desire to control is threatening your sanity, pay attention and gently ask yourself WHO you’re looking at. The only place you or I can find calm and joy and a quiet mind is in the arms of Jesus. We can learn this together.

If you’d like to explore this idea a bit deeper for yourself, go to the Daughters of Eve blog where you’ll find some questions for personal reflection—a healing space for you and God to go deeper.

I’d love to hear from you, so jump onto daughters of eve.blog (no spaces between the words when you type it in to your server, just daughtersofeve.blog) and send me a note or prayer request or a cute picture of your dog . Blessings to you this day. Bye for now.

NOTES: The image is of an icon of Saint Salome. Retrieved 8/2/20 from: https://angelicasotiriou.com/galleries/icons/

6 thoughts on “Matthew 20:20-28: The Lie We Believe…

  1. Arnell, I loved listening to this message. Your voice was so calming. Too much on my mind lately with teachers going virtual, tropical storms, power outages (many accidents – I just drove home from NJ). It was so comforting to hear this message. When I try to control it only gets worse- God’s got this – so, so true – always.

    Thank you – loved the podcast format. Will continue.
    Stay well.
    Donna

    Like

  2. Dear Arnell,
    You did a beautiful job . . . your voice is comforting and your thoughts inspiring. Wasn’t sure I’d prefer listening over reading but you changed my mind. Beautifully done.
    Blessings,
    Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Arnell….very nicely done I think! You have such a calm and gentle voice…the message was good, music a good choice… Great first attempt…thank you!!!  Hope you and family are all well!God bless KarenSent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    Liked by 1 person

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