Jesus tells them again what is going to happen to Him when they arrive in Jerusalem, and there is an important reason that Matthew includes it here. It becomes the basis for this entire section that shows Jesus as the perfect example of humility and service. He teaches that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” His service ultimately leads to the cross. Jesus also models service and compassion in our passage by healing the blind men by the road. The point being made is that all of Jesus’ followers are called to mimic His example in their lives.
James and John become an important part of this teaching. Mark 10:37 says they come and ask Jesus if they can have the most honored spots in His kingdom, but here it says their mom asks for them. Is this an error? No, it’s just editorial license. Apparently their mom was with them and asked the question on their behalf. Mark doesn’t see the point in bringing their mom into it since it seems it was their idea! Jesus uses this as a teaching moment. The disciples aren’t supposed to be concerned about glory. They are to be concerned about service: “whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” But there is an interesting sidebar here. Jesus asks, “Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They think they are, and Jesus agrees. The Bible shows us that they did: James became the first apostolic martyr (Acts 12:2), and John suffered persecution and exile (Revelation 1:9).
Philippians 2:5-8 “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross!“