Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

4 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 20.17-28

Do we share the desire of the mother of James and John for wanting her sons to do well? Any parent would. But she had completely missed the point. She wanted her sons to be up there as key members of Jesus’ cabinet (one on his left and the other on his right) in the new government of the Kingdom he talked about frequently.  Little did she know how God’s Kingdom would come in! Jesus would enter glory by going the way of suffering, the way of the Cross. Neither she nor her sons had the faintest idea of the meaning of all this.

I often meet people who want me to support their cause, to add my name to their campaign, to draft me to tell their story and get their point across. I am very careful about this: I don’t want to be a cog in someone else’s machine – and in the end I want it to be about Jesus, not someone else’s set of ideas. I know whose agenda I want to live and work to. Many a time I am truly an unreliable ally as Jesus is the one whose priorities come first.

What I have come to know of Jesus is that he is full of surprises. Just when I think I have understood, I have to learn a new lesson and start again. It’s like that. What I have to do is always surrender my thinking, my hoping, and my planning to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and seek to follow only Him.

You know what they say – if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…..

Whatever our plans are, God’s plans are better: ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’  (Jeremiah 29.11)


Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 20.17-28

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’