Re: On the Right & Left of Jesus (Mt20:21-23)

James H. Vellenga (
Wed, 11 Sep 96 15:25:54 EDT

> From: Larry Chouinard <>
> You may be on to something by the reference to sitting on the <left and
> right> of Jesus. The one problem I find is v.23, which seems to view the
> <left and right> as positions of privilege afforded only by God. I am
> also somewhat confused by your reference to Jesus" words as ironical.
> Certainly the disciples see the positions as places of honor. Are you
> suggesting that Jesus picks up on their language and answers in terms of
> his approaching crucifixion? Thus, he is telling them that to be
> crucified, one on the left and the other on the right was something only
> the Father could grant. Hence, Jesus would be turning their request for
> places of privilege into a subtle allusion to his death.
> Have I understood your position correctly? If so, it appears that v.23
> poses a problem for your interpretation. However, I do like the
> observation concerning the presence of the mother of the sons of Zebedee
> and the <right/left> reference at the cross.
> Thanks for your observations.

Actually, v. 23 doesn't seem to be that much of a problem, given
that Jesus often speaks in an inversion of the value system of
the KOSMOS -- see for example, v. 16 of the same passage. In
that way of looking at things, the positions on Jesus' right
and left at his crucifixion could indeed be places of honor.

Also note that this passage immediately follows v. 19, which
also seems to lend credence to Stephen's speculation.