DCL 4.5 Instruction | Biblical Case Study | A Mother’s Request

Biblical Case Study: A Mother’s Request (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10: 35-45)

Video Presentation:  John Hull, President / CEO, EQUIP

The disciples of Jesus seemed to have a very difficult time understanding His mission on planet earth. They seemed to believe that Jesus would soon overthrow the Roman governor in Jerusalem and set up His own political kingdom. Each of them desired to be second-in-command and have a place of high honor at the right hand of Jesus when He assumed control of the nation. The mother of James and John came with them to Jesus to ask a special favor. Note how this family followed popular thinking in their request:

1.  Self-promotion was the pathway to success.

2.  They deserved the highest position.

3.  Self-interests were priority number one.

4.  Thought that if they did not take care of themselves, no one else would.

5.  Always fought for the top spot, whatever it took to get there.

6.  The end justified the means.

7.  Winning was everything.


Jesus was never one for popular thinking. In fact, His teachings regularly challenged the commonly ac­cepted thinking of His day. His response to James and John and their mom is a classic example of His re­fusal to go with the trend of popular thinking. Look at His words as recorded in Matthew 20:25-27. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.


Jesus taught us that leadership is servanthood. He insisted that we lead by serving, and the higher we go in leadership the more we serve. His servant-leader thinking ran contrary to the popular thinking of His day…and it remains unpopular in our day!

Let’s take a moment to contrast the world’s leadership model with Jesus’ ideal for servant leadership:


Jesus, the Saviour of the world, proved Himself to be the greatest Servant of all time. When the disciples arranged an upper room for supper, they failed to book a servant to wash the men’s dirty feet at the door. None of the disciples volunteered for the job. Instead, they argued over which of them was the greatest. But Jesus took a basin and a towel and began washing the feet of His followers. What does He teach us about servant leaders?


Christ-like Servant Leaders…

1.  Are motivated by love to serve others.

2.  Possess a security that allows them to serve others.

3.  Initiate servant ministry to others.

4.  Accept servant ministry from others.

5.  Teach servanthood by their example.



  • What are some examples of when Jesus acted contrary to popular thinking?
  • Write them down and keep this list where you can be reminded of Christ-like servant leadership.




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