The message of what I will call “the understanding of greatness through service,” is part of my ‘Back to The Basics’ Sermon series that I begin today.
There are two Gospel writers who refer to this particular narrative between Jesus and his disciples about greatness and serving or ‘ministering’ to others (Matthew 20 and Mark 10).
In Matthew’s writings, there is a three –fold progression through three ‘Son of Man’ sayings.
The Ultimate Future: The Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne (19:28).
The Immediate Future: The picture of the Son of Man’s suffering and vindication (20:18-19).
The Present: The picture of the Son of Man’s self-giving service for others (20:28).
It is this third understanding of who Jesus is and what he tells and explains to his disciples about what true servanthood is that I want to address this morning
because it is to become the model for the disciple’s own life and ministry
In a nutshell, Matthew and Mark both present that any progression / pattern for greatness comes through suffering and self-giving.
The way Mark usually worked was (1) announcement, misunderstanding, and (3) further instruction.
: So let’s look at the text.
To do the text (what comes before and what is after) justice let me point out first of all what comes before:
Notice that the disciples try to run them off! NIV-‘rebuked’ NRSV – ‘spoke sternly’
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Hard for wealthy to enter kingdom. Camel through eye of needle.
? What the Heck? Did they not just hear what He said? Evidently not. That is why he has to give an explanation.
Critical Facts about Serving
1)) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon 1a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to 1a1) to be served, ministered unto 1b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests, 1b1) of women preparing food 1c) to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life 1c1) to relieve one’s necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life 1c2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon 1c3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons 1d) to minister 1d1) to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests.
James and John here (and in Mark’s version their mother) came asking that they be given a place of honor.
: It was all about them! Their
“It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”
1) business, employment, that which any one is occupied 1a) that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24 NKJ)
: You weren’t created just to consume resources — to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on Earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back.
: The reality is that when we serve in any way we are doing it as unto the Lord and fulfilling one of our purposes in being created and saved.
(Mat 25:37-40 NKJ)
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,`Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
`When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
`Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“And the King will answer and say to them,`Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
: The second critical / significant understanding about serving is that it will always cost us something.
“Are you able to drink the cup that I drink,” and “or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
Jesus uses 2 metaphors
In the OT, the word for “cup” is used metaphorically to re3fer to divine wrath or punishment. Thus Jesus might be said to drink the “cup” as the sacrificial victim whose death atones for the sinfulness that merited God’s wrath.
: Jesus’ service/ministry cost him a great price! His own life!
: God help us when we say ‘we’re too busy,’ ‘I can’t right now,’ ‘it will take too much of my time,” etc..
: The third critical point about greatness and serving is this, serving should never be pursued for personal aggrandizement.
Should Never be for the Purpose of Aggrandizement
Jesus says, “Among the Gentiles it is known that those who rule are lords and tyrants.”
“Therefore, Jesus called them in for a meeting and said, “You know how leadership works among the nations. Those who appear to lead are
notorious for bearing down on their subordinates
. Their great men control them.”
officials flaunt their authority
over those under them. (Mar 10:42 NLT)
1) to bring under one’s power, to subject one’s self, to subdue, master
: The last critical understanding about serving is that servanthood should be a part of every believers DNA.
The self-denial associated with the cross does not always mean martyrdom.
What it does call for is the denying the demand for honor, power, and status.
The repeated struggles for honor among the disciples show what a difficult task that reversal of values is
: Want to be great? Serve! Want to Lead? Follow! Want honor? Humble yourself?
: “For the son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give
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