Lectionary Sermon (Gospel) for October 17, 2021

Mark 10:35-45 Servants more than leaders

The secular world and now, the church world is being bombarded by books, blogs, podcast, and seminars on leadership. I find it interesting that Jesus did not call individuals to mentor as leaders but worked to help the twelve and others to become something far more important, servants. In our passage today we find Jesus declaring,

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45 NRS)

This is what Jesus said, it is what he did. Jesus came to serve. God choses the path of servanthood. Do you not think that this is also what God expects of us? Are the things we do – attend church, occasionally give money, and maybe just maybe having a personal quiet time? These are good things, I believe, but

Jesus could have spent hours a week at the temple worshipping God, but he did not. Jesus could have had one Bible study after another, but he did not. Jesus came to serve. Jesus came to wash feet. Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless. Jesus gave insight to the ignorant. Jesus came to serve the sentence of those who were guilty and separated from God.

In our passage, two of Jesus’s disciples come to him with a request. They wanted Jesus to give them status. They want to sit next to Jesus in His kingdom. They had ambition. They had desires. The problem was that their ambition and desires where not in line with what Jesus was teaching about status.

Did they meet the qualifications? They said they did. I don’t think they had any idea of what Jesus was asking of them. They would meet the qualifications. They would pay a dear price for their faith but as to who would have the places of honor they desired; Jesus stated that such decisions were not his to make. My question is then, who makes them? I believe that we do!

When the other disciples get angry at the two for asking what they asked, Jesus used the time to give instruction on this manner. He stated he did not give positions. He did state that such honors, such positions are based on desiring to be a servant, “but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mk. 10:43-44 NRS) Our attitude, aptitude, and actions will determine where we fit in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s use our imaginations just a bit. Start imagining a world in which everyone wants what is best for everyone else. Imagine a world in which we would want to help our neighbor. Imagine a world in which all governmental rules and laws were in favor of caring for people and providing what they need to build the best communities in this world. It would be pretty awesome.

This is the world that will eventually take the place of the world we now live in. This is the way Jesus modelled for those of us who followed him. It is not an easy road. It is a rode that goes against the spirit of this world. It is road that is filled with temptations and distractions. We will face the tests our Savior faced. Jesus warns us, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.” (Jn. 15:19 NRS)

We should expect difficulty in this world. If our struggle to walk the narrow road is not challenging, if we are comfortable with the world and are willing to participate and cooperate with the world to just get along, and if an examination of our practices and priorities shows we are more of the world than we are in our participation in our Lord’s kingdom we need to ask ourselves why?

The Apostle Paul gives us a good reason for why we should be concerned. Paul tells us, “For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  But our citizenship1 is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:18-20 NRS)

Paul goes on to say, “For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mk. 8:36 NRS)

If we are not engaged in serving our Lord and others, we are gambling with our eternity. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33 NIV)

This is our growth plan. This is our emergency action plan. The Scripture makes it clear, “to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Rom. 2:7-8 NRS)

But what about grace. We are saved by faith through grace. Yes, no truer words have been spoken. But we need to remember the rest of the inspired revelation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God –not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Eph. 2:8-10 NRS)

We are “made” for the good works of Jesus. This is not just attending church. It is not just owning a Bible. It is not just “being a good person.” It is about being a good Samaritan. It is about alleviating suffering when we can. It is about help others, comforting others, and serving others. If we do not desire to do such things, if we are not seeking to do such things, or if we avoid even thinking about such things, we need to ask ourselves why?

“For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Lk. 19:10 NRS) Jesus came to be a servant in order to show us the way to achieve our full human purpose. He gave his life for us. He gave his all for us. He is still offering us the best path, the eternal path, of being with Jesus on his right or left, not as positions of superiority, but of positions of service. This is God’s call to us. How will we respond?