Matthew 20:17-28

Talks for Growing Christians

Greatness in the Kingdom of God is not Determined by the World’s Standards

Matthew 20:17-28

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Lesson Number 53

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Rank in the future kingdom is not determined by present request.
  2. Rank in the future kingdom is determined by present service.

Practical Application

  1. Mothers, make the right requests for your children.


  1. Did the Lord Jesus know what would happened if He went to Jerusalem?
  2. What was the basis for the request of James and John’s mother?
  3. What “cup” was the Lord referring to in Matthew 20:22?
  4. How did James and John die?
  5. Will there be rank in the future millennial kingdom on earth?
  6. What does God use to determine rank in the future kingdom?
  7. Who is the perfect model of a servant?


  1. Yes, He knew that He would be betrayed and killed (Matthew 20:18-19), yet He was not dissuaded. He “set His face” toward Jerusalem.
  2. The parable in the previous section about reward in the kingdom
  3. This cup was His coming suffering and death.
  4. James was martyred for the cause of Christ (Acts 12). John was persecuted and exiled to the island of Patmos.
  5. Yes. Jesus said this rank is determined by His Father.
  6. Our service now. Matthew 20:26-27.
  7. The Lord Jesus. Matthew 20:28.


  1. Discuss the standards the world uses to measure greatness. What standard does God use? Our service of others.
  2. Matthew 20:28 says the Lord “gave His life a ransom for many.” I Timothy 2:6 says, “He gave Himself a ransom for all.” Discuss why these verses are not a contradiction. In I Timothy 2:6, He gave Himself a ransom “on behalf of” all. In Matthew He gave His life “in place of many.” These are both accurate statements of Christ’s work on the cross. Christ’s atonement was unlimited in scope and provision, but it is limited in effect to those who believe. He died on behalf of all, but He died in place of those who believe. Have you believed and made His death effective for you?


  1. What are you requesting on behalf of your children? Make sure that your prayers are in line with God’s priorities. Pray that they become godly men and women who love the Lord and serve Him with their lives.

Key Verses

  • “The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Matthew 20:18-19
  • “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” Matthew 20:26
  • “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

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