Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

04/26/15 Sermon - Entitlement

 

“Entitlement”

 

Mark 10:32-45

 

Here we go again.

Today’s Scripture begins with Jesus, again, for the third time explaining, in detail, how He was going to die. He and his disciples were going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus, states that He, the Son of Man, would be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. The priests and teachers would condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles, who would mock him, and spit on him, flog him and kill him. However, three days later, he would rise.

Being on this side of the crucifixion and resurrection, we read this and recognize Jesus had described the situation, to a tea! Right down to the spitting part. And the three day resurrection detail is spelled out very clearly.

None of the words Jesus spoke were in any literary structure, or hidden in some poetic jargon. Jesus said it exactly how it happened.

Now let’s go back there for a moment.

Try and put yourself in the place of the twelve disciples. Because if you are anything like me, you may be reading this and wondering, what is up with these guys? I understand their idea of “God’s kingdom” had been shaken up a great deal and that Jesus had spent three years revealing something totally different. But when I read what Jesus said, it seems to me He couldn’t get much clearer than that. If it had been a snake it would have bit them.

And then I started thinking about those of us in church today. I am afraid we are not much different.

How many people do you know who have been attending church for most of their lives, and the messages that have been given have revealed to them, over and over again, what it means:

     to be saved from sin,

     who Jesus really is,

     what Christianity is all about,

and they have done nothing differently in their lives to demonstrate they comprehend what has been preached. There is a spiritual block somewhere and in the case of the disciples, it took the death of Jesus on a cross and extreme sorrow to remove that block. In the case of us today, unfortunately I believe it often takes the same thing. There needs to be a severe amount of sorrow or pain that shakes us up to open our spiritual eyes to the gospel. My prayer has been that death doesn’t come before change can occur.

Let’s stop right now and pray for those people we know who’s spiritual ears are blocked.

Back to the book of Mark.

We have Jesus’ third declaration of his upcoming death and the next thing we read is a response from a couple of the disciples, but not exactly the response we would expect, or then again, if we remember, the disciples are humans, perhaps we should expect this response.

You see, James and John, did catch on to the part of Jesus being the Son of Man, the Messiah, but instead of listening to what Jesus had to say about what was planned for the Messiah, they immediately went in their minds to what they had planned for the Messiah.

You see in their minds, they had Jesus going into Jerusalem and claiming his Messiahship, taking over and establishing his kingdom and setting up his throne. You know, just like King David. And everyone knows that when you have a throne chair, you have two other chairs, on either side, for your right and left hand person.

The method in which the brothers choose to ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting in those chairs is quite familiar. Many a child may ask a parent

or a spouse may ask another spouse, in this similar manner. You’ve heard it before, it’s when they want to ask for something their parent or spouse may not be ready to address. It’s a way to remind the parent or spouse how much they love them before they ask the question so that may influence them into saying yes.

You know the procedure, “Will you say “yes” to what I am going to ask?”

Immediately your antennae goes up and you wonder,

“Okay, what’s up? “What do you want?”

In fact, look at how Jesus responded, he said,

“What do you want me to do for you?”

The brothers asked if Jesus would allow one of them to sit on the right and one of them could sit on the left of Jesus in his glory.

Now mind you, “in his glory”, did not mean “up in heaven” for these two disciples.

To them, “in his glory” meant when Jesus got rid of the Romans and established his throne and kingdom in Jerusalem.

Jesus’ response demonstrated his love for the two brothers. He responded by saying, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

Think about it.

Jesus had just told them, once they arrived in Jerusalem he was going to be flogged, spit on, and killed. They obviously weren’t listening, because if they had, they would have realized they were signing up for condemnation and death.

Jesus even questioned them as to whether they thought they were able to drink the cup he had to drink or be baptized with the baptism he was about to experience.

Naively they answered that they could.

At this point, I think Jesus’ voice must have dropped. Because he knew that unfortunately they would eventually share in his fate. They would become martyrs for their faith. As for the two places of honor, well those seats were not Jesus’ to give away, they would have to wait to see who they had been prepared for.

Now, Jesus may have responded to the brother’s request with love and compassion, but that was not how the other ten disciples saw it.

The Scripture says that when the others heard about the request they became indignant. What gave James and John the right to think they deserved to be given that privilege over the others?

You can bet the others felt they too deserved the positions of prestige and power just as much as James and John, maybe more. They just hadn’t been quick enough to ask first.

The concept of entitlement acted out, often creates a lot of tension. We see this happening with the twelve disciples, and we experience it in our lives today.

Isn’t that the American plan?

Do whatever it takes to get ahead!

When we say that, what exactly do we mean, to “get ahead”?

Unfortunately I think too often it means getting ahead of others.

Whether that means financially, socially, on the corporate ladder, or whatever ladder that is around.

This happens in our workplace, it happens in our families, and unfortunately it can be seen happening in our churches.

Quite often the results of people seeking to get ahead of others, creates what the ten disciples felt, indignation, and resentfulness.

But let’s not confuse “getting ahead” with having ambitions.

You see, Jesus had ambitions.

His ambition was to lay down his life for others. He had a purpose. He was sent down, as the only begotten son of God, not to claim his greatness, as creator, healer, miracle worker, and teacher, which he was. No, he was sent down to give up his live in service to those who were lower than him. In fact, he had just explained this ambition in detail before the brother’s request.

Jesus now had to call the twelve disciples together and calm down their emotions. Each of the disciples thought they knew what the “best” place would be in God’s kingdom and each thought they deserved to be there.

Jesus got them together to explain the differences between the world’s view of greatness and God’s view of greatness.

Again, God turns everything around.

Jesus explained that the world’s rulers exercise their authority by lording over those who are under them. Their method of management was to use their power and authority to control those under them, to make them do what they wanted to be done. Those underneath were supposed to serve those who were in power. That was what “having power” was all about.

However, when it comes to God’s kingdom, Jesus’ words were….

“NOT SO WITH YOU”.

Jesus explained that God’ kingdom was exactly the opposite.

“Instead, whoever wanted to be become great among you must be a servant, and whoever wanted to be first must be slave of all.”

Then, as the leader of the group, Jesus pointed his finger at himself and said,

“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.”

Okay, stop for a moment, and take that in.

On Friday and Saturday, Lydia and I were visiting colleges. And while in a visitor’s session at Middlebury College in Vermont, one of the student leaders explained that at Middlebury silence was treated as a friend. The concept of silence, when no one was contributing by talking meant the group was allowing time for the information to sink in and was given time to consider what was being discussed so that everyone had time to contemplate thoughts and possibly questions.

That is what I would like to offer to you right now.

So often, we come to church and we listen to the message and we catch maybe 50% of what is said, because our minds can process much faster than someone can speak. So while I am talking, you are not only listening to my words, but you are also, thinking ahead, maybe about what is being shared, but more likely on where you will go after church, what you will have for lunch, or who you will meet or whatever comes into the space in your mind, that my voice is not filling.

So, right now, I am going to repeat what I stated, because I think it bears repeating and deserves silence and some focused thought.

However, when it comes to God’s kingdom, Jesus’ words were….

“NOT SO WITH YOU”.

Jesus explained that God’ kingdom was exactly the opposite.

“Instead, whoever wanted to be become great among you must be a servant, and whoever wanted to be first must be slave of all.”

Then, as the leader of the group, Jesus pointed his finger at himself and said,

“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.”

Okay, Silence, stop for a moment, and take that in.

(ALLOW SILENCE)

You see for all extensive purposes, God’s Kingdom ways are opposite to what we are told in the world today as well.

We should hear Jesus’ words to us today,

“NOT SO WITH US”

The “us” refers to those of us who are followers of Jesus. “Us” is those in the church, who call themselves Christians.

If we are honest with ourselves, we sometimes distance ourselves from being servants to others.

We often discover that we have so much going on our own lives, whether with work, or our own needs that we don’t even see the need to serve, or worse, we do not want to commit to being a servant.

Yet, we are called to be Christ like, and to be like Christ, means to be the servant of all. And not only that, but being Christ like means serving without expecting to be given accolades, or praise, or honor, or  a high position for all the service that is done.

To be Christ like, means serving for the sake of serving God.

I am going to close by reading  

Matthew 25:35-40

 

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 

 

 

 

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 

 

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Whoever has ears, let them hear.  (Matthew 11:15)

Let’s pray.