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Matthew 20:21

Matthew 20:21

And he said unto her, what wilt thou?
&c.] Mark says, "he said unto them"; her two sons, James and John, "what would you that I should do for you?" Both is true; what is this singular favour? what business of moment and importance is it, you would have me do for you, you are so eager and pressing for, and so solicitous of? This he said, not as being ignorant of the matter; he knew the corruption of their hearts, the vanity of their minds, their carnal, worldly, and ambitious views; but to lead them on to say all they had to say upon this head; in which may be observed the goodness, humanity, and patience of Christ, in not upbraiding them with their pride and insolence, in bearing with their rashness and folly, and in giving them room to believe, that he should answer their request in every thing that was right and reasonable to be done,

She saith unto him, grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on
the right hand, and the other the left in thy kingdom:
or, as in Mark, "in thy glory" that is, in thy glorious kingdom; meaning a temporal one, which would outdo all the kingdoms of the world, in external glory, pomp, and splendour, as they imagined: to sit one on the right hand and the other on the left hand of Christ, when he should be seated, literally, on the throne of his father David, signifies to be nearest to his person; to be next to him in power and authority; to have the highest posts of honour, and places of trust and profit; to be his prime ministers; and, in a word, to have the greatest share next to him of worldly honour, riches, and power. To sit at the right hand, was, with the Jews, reckoned a great mark of honour and affection; see ( 1 Kings 2:19 ) and so with other nations: with the Egyptians especially, it was accounted a great honour to be placed on the right hand, but the greatest to be in the middle: which was equally observed among the Romans, and the same with the Africans and Numidians; though Xenophon relates, that Cyrus, with a singular prudence, that he might receive his guests the more honourably, used to place them at the left hand, accounting that part, as nearest the heart, to be the more worthy. F7 These two, the best and most honourable places, this woman was for engrossing for her two sons, who joined with her in the request; for Mark says, that "they said unto him, grant unto us that we may sit" and Christ's answer here, which follows, implies as much.


F7 Alex. ab. Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 19.