The Gospel from the Mass on the second Wednesday in Lent (Matt 20:17-28) offers two powerful examples of Christ’s transcendent knowledge of the future.  An excerpt:

[17] And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, [18] “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death,  [19] and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”  [20] Then the mother of the sons of Zeb’edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. [21] And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”  [22] But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”  [23] He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” [24] And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.

Jesus knows what the future holds and He gives the disciples a frightening preview:

  • Jesus offers His third disclosure of the Passion (Matt 16:21, 17:22-23), with remarkable precision that includes the collusion of the Jews and Romans, the brutality of the scourging, the mocking, crucifixion and His Resurrection.
  • Remarkably, rather than meditate on this remarkable event, the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee) seeks to gain power and status for her sons by asking Christ to give them preferential treatment in His Kingdom.
  • Jesus offers a second glimpse into the future:  “You will drink from My cup…”
  • Perhaps the Apostles were too angry to realize what Jesus was saying, for they were indignant.  If they would have been more thoughtful, they would have realized that Jesus was telling them that James and John were going to suffer like Christ.
  • To “drink from the cup”, has a second meaning: to experience Divine Wrath (Jer 25:15; Ezek 23:31; Rev 14:10); perhaps Jesus was expressing displeasure for the disciples myopic and selfish request for power (In Matt 20:25-28, Jesus explains that James and John have it wrong; they must be servants like Jesus).
  • The words of Jesus come true:  James is crucified in Jerusalem (Acts 12:2) and John will suffer exile (Rev 1:9).

Each disciple of Christ must be prepared to drink from Christ’s chalice.

Are you thirsty enough?