Serve

Pastor Jake Schram

Worship Theme: Serve

First Lesson: Isaiah 53:10-12 (NIV)
Gospel & Sermon Text: Mark 10:35-45 (NIV)
Music:

  • CW 369: Beautiful Savior
  • Change My Heart, Oh God
  • Children of the Heavenly Father - 4th Grade
  • Seek Ye First - Jubilate Choir
  • CW 327: God Be With You

Message Notes & Growth Group Questions

Watch the livestream beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.

View Livestream on YouTube

Message: Serve

Pastor Jake Schram

Pride can be an ugly thing. It can lead to all sorts of despicable behavior. This week alone, I’ve seen someone lie, I’ve seen someone cheat, I’ve seen someone steal to get what they want. And none of it surprised me. Because pride can lead us to do stupid things in our own name. Pride causes us to alter a story to make ourselves look a little better. Pride causes us to gossip to others so that they know we are the victim and that the other person is the bad guy. Pride causes grown men and women to flip out when they lose a game because we are obviously the best and should never have to lose. Pride causes us to feel entitled and deserving of things that aren’t ours and were never meant to be. Pride causes us to step on people in our quest to get to the top. Pride can be ugly because it focuses so very much on ourselves. It makes us think we are perfect. And this can cause us to miss something very near and dear to the Lord’s heart: serving others.

The disciples struggled with pride as much as anyone. Let’s let the text show us. Two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, were called “Boanerges,” which means “sons of thunder.” It seems they were fiery and bold. Perhaps you know someone like that. It can be a good trait to have, but often it can get you into trouble. These two disciples are passionate, but they also want to be the best. And it seems this characteristic ran in the family because Matthew tells us that their mother set these two disciples to ask Jesus a very bold question. These disciples agreed with their mom’s suggestion and so “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

Imagine if someone comes up to you and says, “Hey there. Can we lock you into a promise for an unknown request?” How would you react? That’s like someone coming up to you and asking you to donate $10,000 to something. And when you ask what the money will go for, the person asking says, “Don’t worry about it.” You’d know something is up. Jesus knows something is up. James and John know that they are up to something. Them not asking Jesus directly seems to indicate that they don’t think Jesus is going to approve of what they are about to ask him.

Without saying yes or agreeing to anything, Jesus tells them to ask away. They reply, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Whoa! That’s a big ask. Those are positions of honor. They think they are asking to be put on a pedestal and be shown to everyone that they are better than everyone else in the entire world. They want glory. They want fame. They want to be the best of the best! But they have no idea what they are actually asking Jesus.

Imagine how they deflated when Jesus told them, “You don’t know what you are asking.” You flat out don’t understand. You don’t know what kind of glory you are asking for. You see, the disciples struggled with understanding that Jesus wasn’t going to be an earthly king ruling in comfort and bathing in wealth. That’s not why he came to earth. His glory would be a little bit more painful. Without knowing it, they were asking to be a part of that.

“Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” The disciples answer, “Yes. Of course we can.” Remember, they are bold. They don’t even understand what Jesus is talking about, but they are sure they can do it. Now, let’s break down what Jesus is actually saying here. “Can you drink the cup I drink?” Throughout the OT the cup was used as a metaphor for God’s wrath. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks for the cup to be taken away, but if it is God’s will, he’ll take it. The prophecies of Isaiah talk about the suffering God’s servant will have to endure. This is the cup he will drink. Jesus is essentially asking the disciples, “Can you suffer as I will suffer?”

Jesus also asked, “Can you be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Jesus had been born to do one thing. He was baptized into the role of being the Savior of the World, this was his part to play. He was to be the substitute in our place for the sins of the World and bring peace to it. He would atone the world. Jesus did not shy from this difficult role but embraced it. So Jesus is essentially asking the disciples, “Can you play the role of bringing peace to the World?

The disciples think they are just asking for wealth and reputation. Even though Jesus has told them, they haven’t accepted the fact that he was going to suffer and die. But Jesus is asking them if they are willing to suffer and if they are willing to spread God’s Word. And Jesus tells them that they will in a way. They too will suffer for spreading his Word. One, James, would be killed because of his Christianity. The other, John, would be exiled for it. In that way they would drink the cup Jesus drinks. And they too would share the peace and atonement that would come through Jesus’ death. In that way they would be baptized with the baptism Jesus is baptized with. But when Jesus is in his glory on the cross, the spots on his right and left will already be taken by others.

This whole scenario with the disciples reminds me of a chess match I had in 4th grade. Our school had this huge chess tournament. And remember, I went to a public school so there were a lot of kids. I entered one year barely knowing how to play, and near the end of the tournament, I had to face a certain kid. This kid had been talking all year about how he was going to win the tournament. He knew every strategy and its official name. He played every day and every night. He was the superior player and he let everyone know. As we played, he kept telling me how he was going to destroy me and truth be told he was much better than I. But he was so prideful that he missed the small things. In chess there is a piece called a pawn. It is the weakest piece in chess, and therefore he never saw it coming. With the same pawn, I took three of his best pieces and then put him in checkmate. He went home crying that day. He was so intent on his impending glory, that he missed the things right in front of him.

Now again, the disciples don’t understand right now. All they are seeing is how important they think they are and how they should be honored above everyone else. They are overlooking what is actually happening right in front of them. They were not as perfect as they thought. None of us are. We all often miss Jesus’ words completely.

So often we think just because we are Christians our lives should be better and free of trouble. That God should give us riches and comfort right here, right now. How come our neighbors, atheist Bob and Agnostic Sue, sometimes seem to have it all? “They don’t believe, God. How come they get the reward?” Our Savior reminds us that we didn’t earn anything for our salvation. He earned it completely and fully on the cross for us. And this world isn’t made to be comfortable quite yet. Sometimes, when you are too comfortable and cozy, is it hard to motivate yourself to get up and do something? You bet! And God still has plenty for us to do. So don’t get too comfortable just yet. He had plenty for his disciples too. But first he had to change their focus.

All the disciples had been caught up in Pride. Our text tells us, “When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.” They were mad because they thought it should have been them that received the places of honor. They were constantly worried about these things. Earlier in chapter nine, they had bickered about who was the greatest among themselves (v. 33-36). Afterwards, they became upset that someone else was working in Jesus’ name that was not a part of their inner group (9:39-40). They would despise simple followers such as children (10:13-16) and so much more. So Jesus sets them free from this way of thinking. Jesus tells them that whoever wants to be great must become less and do something people never expect great people to do: serve. It was completely contrary to the thinking of the time.

At this point I think it is important to remember why Jesus became human. He’s the perfect example. God is the highest in rank and righteousness. He’s the top dog, the Almighty of the universe. Meanwhile, he has these people that don’t love him. They discredit him. Half of us don’t believe in him and chalk him up as a fairy tale. Now remember, God is at the top. He had no reason to help us and yet he humbled himself to serve us. Us, after all we’ve done. God came down and served in the greatest way possible. He lived the perfect life in our place and then suffered and died so that our own sins wouldn’t be held against us. He is the definition of greatness and he served like no other.

Think about this. The day before Jesus was crucified, he washed his disciples’ feet. Their dirty smelly feet. If you were given one day to live, what would you choose to do with it? A trip? Something fun? Time with your family? Spend a bunch of money? Washing feet probably wasn’t at the top of your list. And yet Jesus served.

God has chosen you for something different than the rest of the world. “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This world needs love desperately. And guess who God has appointed to share it? You. And we are not to let pride get in the way. You see those people shooting each other on the news all the time. They need God’s love desperately. You see the people lost and confused about the point of life. They need God’s love. You see the people struggling with their identity. They need God’s love. You see all the Christians out there? We all need God’s love just as much. We are supposed to show love to everyone. It doesn’t mean you support everything a person is doing by helping someone. God certainly doesn’t condone half the things we’ve done in our lives, but still helped us out of love. He still offers that love to pull people to what is better: the salvation found in his Word. We get to show that love.

This past week in Tuesday morning Bible Study we talked about idolatry and how we sometimes put ourselves and the things we want in front of God. But how differently things would look if we put him first. We finished our lesson with a fill in the blank sentence: “If I was more filled with the Spirit of Christ, I would be more/less ____________.” We had everyone fill it out and almost all the answers came to be something that would help us to serve others. So today, I want to leave you with something similar. It’s obvious that sometimes we think we are more perfect than we are. It’s also apparent God loves us very much and has a powerful effect on our sin and on our hearts. So what will you do with that? God has called you to be different. God has called you to ____________. How will you now go serve others and bring them closer to Him? Amen.