Greatness . Something we strive to achieve with the limited time that is our lives. But what does it mean to be great in the eyes of God? Pastor Jason shares from Mark 10:32-45.Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
*not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript*
There is an intense debate tearing apart our country. Two sides entrenched, deeply believing one is greater than the other. The debate is MJ or Lebron. Which one of them is the GOAT? By GOAT, I mean the greatest basketball player of all-time. While the comparisons are pointless, Michael Jordan is the only right answer. Jordan has more championships, MVPs, scoring titles, and other awards that Lebron’s career flops in comparison.
This is one of the many ways our world defines greatness. It is being the most successful, being the strongest, having the highest GPA, and the fatness of a paycheck. But while those things are important to the world, does God agree with those measuring sticks? What is greatness in God’s eyes?
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.” 35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (NRSV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
IN THE TEXT: Do us a favor
***[v35-37] DO US A FAVOR ***
After Jesus gives a detailed prophecy about how He would die, James and John come to Him wanting a favor. They preface their request by saying, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Then they ask, “Let one of us sit at your right and your left.” These were the two highest places to sit next to the king. James and John wanted to be the most important next to Jesus.
This proves that even after explaining three times how Jesus would die, the disciples still do not get it. James and John think Jesus is getting ready to establish a kingdom like that ruled by David and Solomon. They wanted to take these top spots so the people of this world would see how great they were.
***[v38-40] DO WHAT I DO—PART 1***
Jesus realizes that James and John have no idea what they are asking. He asks James and John if they could “drink the cup” that He would drink. Both the drink and baptism Jesus mentions here is in reference to His suffering and death. James and John, still not fully comprehending, respond that they could drink from Christ’s cup.
Of course, while James and John have no clue what they were saying in this moment, they would indeed drink from Christ’s cup. The book of Acts tells us that James would be killed by the sword. And John, along with the other disciples, would endure much for the name of Jesus.
Then Jesus does share that the places James and John requested were not His to give. Those places are reserved for individuals God the Father chooses.
***[v41-45] DO WHAT I DO—PART 2***
The Romans were ruling Jerusalem, the Jews had to submit to their authority. This meant they had to pay their taxes and obey the Roman laws. But the way their governing authorities went about ruling was not always so nice. Jesus points this out to all the disciples, with the other ten now angry at James and John. Those belonging to Jesus’s kingdom were not to lead in the patterns of this world, but by giving their life in service to others to bring glory to God.
Jesus explains the kingdom of God is not based on who is the strongest and most powerful leader, but who is willing to become last and be a slave of all. Which was exactly what Jesus was doing, and the whole reason He was going to Jerusalem. He was going to lay down His life as a ransom to God, covering the penalty for all of sin.
FROM THE TEXT: Do what I do—part 3
What is greatness in God’s eyes? Jesus. He came, lived a sinless life. Not only did Jesus follow all the rules, but He also used His time to teach the Scriptures and heal the sick. Jesus spent His time not trying to climb the ladder of success, but sitting with tax collectors and sinners trying to pull them up out of their pit of despair. If you and I want to be great in the eyes of God, it can only be done by being like Jesus.
Being like Jesus is living for the Kingdom of God. It is not trying to get to the top, but being willing to be at the bottom to help others to get out. While you respect the authorities around you, your freedom does not come from them, but from God and can never be taken away. Why? Because the Kingdom of God is not of this world, and this world has no power over it.
Living for the Kingdom of God must be lived out in the same way Jesus lived it out. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” What this means is that living for the Kingdom of God will often put you at odds with the kingdoms of this world. This means we do good because it brings glory to God, even if the world rejects the efforts. Even if the person rejects the efforts. Suffering like Jesus is also denying yourself pleasures the world offers because they would be dishonoring to God or doing so would be harmful to others.
BEYOND THE TEXT: This is what Jesus did
Why must it be this way? Because this is what Jesus did! And to be great in God’s eyes is to be like Jesus. Verses 32-35, Jesus tells exactly what He is going to do. Jesus does get arrested by the chief priests and scribes who sentence Jesus to death. He does get handed over to the Gentiles. He does get mocked, spit on, flogged, and killed. All to pay the penalty for the sins of those committing those atrocities against Him. All to pay the penalty for my sins and your sins.
You want to be great in God’s eyes? Be like Jesus. To be like Jesus and live like Him, you first need to believe that He paid your debt, giving you clean slate.
CALL TO RESPONSE:
In just a moment, I am going to invite you forward to take communion, to take the bread and cup that remind us of the cost of our freedom. But to take this cup and remember means you believe and accept that Jesus died for you. Taking the cup also means you are willing to drink from the same cup that Jesus did. “Can you drink from the cup that I drink?” (Communion)
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"