Matthew 20:20-28 [cf. Mark 10:35-45]
20:20 Then the mother [Salome (the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus); cf. Matt. 27:56; Mk. 16:1; Jn. 19:25] of Zebedee’s sons [James and John] came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down [sign of respect and submission (although her heart seemed filled with ambition)], asked a favor of him.
20:21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit [request that her sons sit in the places of honor, recognition, prestige] at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom [her question indicates she thought Jesus was going to Jerusalem to defeat Rome and establish a political kingdom].”
20:22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them [Jesus responded to the brothers who likely had their mother make the appeal in their behalf]. “Can you drink [to accept the suffering] the cup [figure of speech for suffering] I am going to drink? [cf. Matt. 26:39]” “We can,” they answered [response indicates they were self-confident and ignorant of the nature of Jesus’ kingdom].
20:23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup [James would be beheaded (Acts 12:2) and John exiled on Patmos (Rev. 1:9)], but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
20:24 When the ten [they had not been present during the discussion] heard about this, they were indignant [may indicate they were jealous] with the two brothers.
20:25 Jesus called them together and said [reminded them of how the Gentiles looked at greatness], “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over [dominate] them [the people], and their high officials exercise authority over them.
20:26 Not so with you [Jesus’ followers must not operate according to worldly standards and values]. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant [typically was considered an underling],
20:27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave [Gr. “doulos” referred to one who was the property of his master and who had no personal rights]—
20:28 just as the Son of Man [a messianic title Jesus often used to describe Himself] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life [the supreme gift] as a ransom [a price paid for the freedom or deliverance of a slave or a captive; cf. 2 Cor. 5:19] for many.”