Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/21/12 Sermon

 
 
Mark 10: 35-45
May the words of my mouth…
 

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day while his wife stayed home.

He wanted her to see what he went through so he prayed, "Dear Lord, I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please create a trade in our bodies".

Well, God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish. The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman.

So he got out of bed, cooked breakfast, woke up the kids, set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners and stopped at the bank to make a deposit.
 
Went grocery shopping, came home and put away the groceries, paid the bills, cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog.

Then it was already 1 p.m. so he hurried to make the beds, did the laundry, vacuumed, dusted, and swept and mopped the kitchen floor.

He ran to school to up pick the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home. Set out cookies and milk and got the kids organized to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing.
At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing greens for salad, breaded the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.
 
After supper he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.
 

At 9 p.m. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished he went to bed with his wife or husband or whatever!

The next morning he awoke and immediately got on his knees by the bed and said, "Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back.
 
The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied, "My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were. But there’s only one problem. You'll have to wait 9 months. You see, you became pregnant last night.
 
Be careful what you wish for.
         

That’s at the heart of our scripture reading today.

James and John come to Jesus and ask him if they could sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when Jesus was in his glory. And of course they’re thinking that Jesus was about to set up an earthly throne. And they wanted places of honor and high status.
 
But Jesus looks at them and says, “You don’t know what you’re asking for. You really, really don’t know what you’re asking.”
 
And then Jesus adds something that’s symbolic here. He asks,…”Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
 
And we see that without even thinking about it, James and John say yes we can. No problem Jesus. We can do it. 
But did they really know what it meant to drink the cup that Jesus drank? And I guess a better question is do we know what it means to drink the cup?
 
Because as followers of Jesus Christ we’re being asked that same question…..Can You Drink the Cup?
 
But before we answer that question haphazardly like James and John, perhaps we need to think about it.
 

What exactly does it mean to drink the cup?

Well we get a better idea of what this cup drinking is all about when we look ahead in the gospel of Mark to chapter 14 versus 32-36.
 
In this passage, Mark writes that Jesus and the disciples went to a place called the Garden of Gethsemane.
 
And in the garden Jesus spoke about his soul being overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He fell to the ground and prayed that if it was possible that the hour might pass from him.

 

And in Jesus’ anguish he prayed "Abba,[a] Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

So here again we see Jesus talking about this cup. But again what IS  this cup?

Or I guess the better question is, what’s IN this cup?? I mean if it’s so bad that Jesus doesn’t want to drink it, it must be pretty bad stuff inside it.

What is this drink; what’s inside this cup?
 
Well this morning I’d like us to take a look at what I think are 3 elements or ingredients that are mixed together in this cup. These 3 elements make up a bitter sweet drink that Jesus consumed and calls us to consume as well.

Now one part of this drink that Jesus calls us to swallow is the bitter taste of forgiveness.

Henri Nouwen the late priest and author writes in his book titled, “Can You Drink the Cup”, that what’s inside this cup that Jesus drank is all of humankind’s sorrows: loss and loneliness, grief, guilt, violence, rejection, starvation, hatred, fear, prejudice.
 

This is a very bitter drink filled with all that is hurtful in this world.

Of course, Jesus drank them all. He took them in as if they were his. He drank them even though he was blameless.

And so with that in mind we have to consider what it means for us to drink down sin.
 
Can we drink the sins of the world; the sins of others in a way as to forgive?
 
You know a lot of us can struggle with forgiving people whose sins have caused us pain. People’s actions and words can steal our peace and joy.
 
It’s like driving in traffic and someone runs a stop sign, zips in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes and almost have an accident.
 
To make matters worse, as you try to calm your nerves “the idiot” never acknowledges their mistake and speeds down the road.

And as a result we scream and curse them as well as their mother and every other relative in their family; including their ancestors and their dog.

And then what usually happens is that the rest of the day, this event can lead us to be consumed by it. We might re-tell the story over and over, becoming a victim whose whole day has been ruined by this individual.
 
And even though the other driver was 100% responsible and was wrong, our reaction is the problem.  
 
Our peace is stolen and we have within us a desire to lash out and condemn.
 
But Jesus calls us to a different way. He calls us to drink the cup of forgiveness that he drank that we might find peace and healing.
 

You see as we drink the cup of sin, we remember that our own sins are in that cup.

We remember our own sinfulness that Jesus drank down and forgave us.

I think this is where many of us struggle offering forgiveness to others. We haven’t received forgiveness and grace ourselves and thus we struggle offering it to others.
 
But Jesus calls us to drink the cup of forgiveness, to receive his grace that we might be bearers of forgiveness to others.
 

And when that happens we change our reactions to others sins.

We’re no longer victims living under somebody’s curse. We no longer carry around revenge and resentment, we no longer hold on to self-righteously proving we’re in the right (sitting at Jesus’ right hand).
 
Instead we find peace. We turn the curse into a blessing.
 

So ask yourself today who am I not forgiving? (Is it a parent, a child, a friend, a doctor?) Where are you holding on to discord and dissension and resentment?

And while you’re at it; ask where do I need forgiveness? That’s the other part. Where do I need to let go of my pride and ask for forgiveness that there might be peace.
 
Jesus calls us to stop swishing around the bitterness of sin in the cup and instead drink it down that we might forgive, and thus live in the peaceful way of the Kingdom of God………..

Now the second element that’s in this cup that makes it so difficult to drink is the bitter taste of sacrifice.

You know the word sacrifice these days is not used very often. About the only time I hear it is when I’m watching a baseball game.
 
A batter comes to the plate and instead of trying to hit a home run he instead lays down a bunt trying to move one of the base runners over into scoring position. You sacrifice yourself for the good of the team.

But this kind of selfless sacrifice was completely counter to what James and John wanted. They wanted glory at the right and left hand of Jesus.

But to drink the cup that is filled with sacrifice means we are choosing the harsh taste of selflessness.
 

Instead of living life always thinking of what we’re going to get out of it or how we’re going to benefit, we intentionally choose the way of Christ who went to the bottom in order to lift others up.

You know many people have been led to become Christians under this same presumption of what we’re going to get out of it.

They’ve been sold on the goal that if you get baptized and saved you’ll get the prize of heaven and eternal life.

But that’s not what drinking the cup and following Christ is about:

There was good man who died and went to heaven, The pearly gates were thrown open for him to enter.

He went through them in a daze of bliss, because it was everything he has been taught, golden streets, milk and alabaster and honey and golden harps.

He wandered the streets lost in happiness, until after a while he realizes that he is all alone; he hasn't seen anybody at all. He walks and walks, and he sees nobody.

So he goes back to the gates, and he asks for Peter,
 
"Peter?"
"Yes, my son?"
 
"This really is heaven?"
"Oh, yes, my son. Don't you like it?"
 

"Oh, it's just wonderful! But where is everybody? Where are the prophets? Where is the Holy Family? Where are the saints?"

Peter looks at him kindly. "Oh, them? They're all down in hell, ministering to the damned. If you'd like to join them, I'll show you the way."……..Source: A Stone for a Pillow
 

The true way of following Christ is a way of selfless sacrifice, not some goal of obtaining eternal life.

And so to drink the cup we sacrifice ourselves by going to where the elderly are alone, where the poor beg, where the unchurched people all around us are living in darkness.

You know I get this feeling that we really don’t care if other people come to know Christ or not.

We feel like we’ve got our seat at the right or left hand with Jesus and we don’t really care about anything else. There’s no need to sacrifice if we’ve got our reserved seats.
 
But to drink the cup of Christ is a way of life that is sacrifice.
 
So ask yourself today, in what ways am I drinking the cup of sacrifice?
 
Am I giving my:
 

-time sacrificially? (ways to serve---food pantry, community dinner, work around the church)

-talents sacrificially? (music ministry, teaching)
 

-money sacrificially? (stewardship commitment)

To drink the cup that Jesus drank is a call to selfless sacrifice.

Are you giving something up in a way that hurts or are you sitting back comfortably counting on your reserved seats in heaven?
 
Now the last ingredient in this bitter sweet concoction of the cup of Christ is the part of the cup that makes it all worthwhile.
 
You see mixed in with the bitterness of sin and forgiveness, of selflessness and sacrifice is the sweetness of hope of life eternal in the Kingdom of God.
 

That’s the great news that empowers us to drink this cup. When we give ourselves to him and drink this cup of sin and sacrifice, we do so with the assurance of the way of the Kingdom that lies ahead.

What lies ahead is more than some pearly gates and roads paved in gold.  

It’s not some recreation destination or Love Boat where all our desires will be catered to.

Instead it is a life in the ways of the Kingdom; a life where there is goodness and rightness, no more injustice and loss and sin. No greed and power and hierarchy. There is no more hunger and poverty, disease and death.
 

What lies ahead is what we’re sacrificing and working for in the present.

The hope in the cup is that one day we will see the completion of what Jesus was bringing about and what he called us to continue thru the power of the Holy Spirit following Christ.
 
We will know that our drinking of the bitterness of this cup was not in vain and that we were faithful and we can look upon our life as one who indeed followed Christ; who truly desired what he did---a world of peace and love and goodness and justice…..
 
In closing this morning we are being asked if we can drink the cup.
 
It’s a question that we must not take lightly.
 

Don’t answer it too quickly. Think it over. Think of what it really means. You see to answer yes to that question means we forgive others and we sacrifice ourselves selflessly because that’s what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.

 
Can you drink the cup? My prayer is that with God’s grace… You will let it all go and you will say… with all of your heart TODAY and every DAY….. yes Lord. I can and I WILL drink that cup.
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.