To Serve or Not to Serve…This is the Question

To Serve or Not to Serve…That is the Question.

Mark 10:35-45

Introduction: The apostles James and John were confused about the servant nature of Jesus. They called him Master, Teacher and Lord, but they did not know what to make of him as Servant.  On this side of the cross, resurrection, and ascension we cannot understand how the disciples could ask such a selfish question as we read in our text, Mark 10:35-45.

: Why / how could they ask this?
Most of us aspire to be significant, have position, power, influence, etc.

Application: How often have we wanted the place of honour or hoped to grasp the place of power? How often have we been resentful of others who seem to have ascended to a “more important” position?

One pastor by the name of John Wallace, in 2006 said it this way,

‘We will do just about anything to keep one step ahead of our neighbour. We will scratch, crawl, whine, connive, weasel and manoeuvre our way to the top. We do not need to go to some remote jungle island to see this phenomenon unfold. In school, the church, the workplace, politics, people schmooze their way into a promotion, sweet talk their way out of trouble, or flirt their way to the top at the expense of those around them’.

Not me…I am a Christian! Ok…let us see/test.

Upside Down Gospel:

  • First shall be last
  • Must lose to find
  • Give to receive
  • Give up life to find it

However, before we are too hard on brothers James and John, let us examine our own attitudes as Christians about servant hood.

  1. Serving runs contrary to earthly greatness.  

“If you want to be the greatest you must be a servant to all, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave.”

  • This would be realized by serving each other, not as an earthly master over anyone, but as a volunteer serving freely.

  • Service is not demanded but given. Jesus, as Paul said, “Emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God…highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:7-9a).

Serve = administered (1), administration (1), cared for(m)(1), contributing to the support (1),deacons (2), do the serving(1), employ in serving(1), minister(3)

  1. Serving is about humility for/with purpose.

* Service expresses & demonstrates a whole-hearted endeavor to Christian faith and value.

Application: In Jesus’ time, social, political and religious power was understood and structured hierarchically: from the top down.

This understanding and structure persists today. But time and again, in word and action, Jesus turns this understanding of power upside down.

  • Washing the feet of his followers; (2) touching those considered unclean; (3) refusing to side with religious intolerance; (4) speaking words of forgiveness, reconciliation and love—these characterize the way of Jesus and his call to newness of life.
  1. Serving puts aside own agenda to carry out Christian mission.

Mark 8:34, ‘If anyone wants to become my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’

‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you love one another.’

Phil. 2:3, ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself’.

  1. Serving does have a price tag (expensive).

‘Are you able to drink from the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’

  • Jesus was speaking of his persecution, suffering, and eventual death.

Application: To serve others, we really do have to die to self.

Conclusion: 2 Famous quotes to consider in conclusion:

JFK, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!’

The famous quote‘to be or not to be’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet when he considers suicide as an escape from his troubles.


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