Posts Tagged ‘Christian humility’

'' photo (c) 2011, Ben - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Here is a sermon from the archives on Mark 10:28-45.  James and John wanted the places of honor next to Jesus.  I preached this during the 2000 U.S. Presidential campaign.  Coveting places of honor is a temptation for individual disciples, but it’s also a temptation for congregations.

Downward Mobility

A Sermon on Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Mark 10:28-45

Sometimes Jesus’ disciples seem dense.  What Jesus says doesn’t sink in with them, and our text today is a prime example.  For much of chapters 8, 9 and 10 in Mark Jesus has been emphasizing to them that things don’t work the same way in the kingdom of God as they do in the world.  Three times in these chapters Jesus stressed that unlike a triumphing worldly king, Jesus, the Son of Man, was going to suffer greatly, be rejected and killed by the authorities, and then rise again.

Now, we can understand the disciples not getting it the first time.  The first time Peter started to rebuke Jesus, saying, “No way, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  And Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan, adversary of God, for you’re setting your mind not on divine things but on earthly things.”  Then Jesus added, “Whoever want to become my followers must deny self and take up their cross and follow me.  Those who save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it.”

We can understand the disciples not getting it the first time.  It didn’t at all fit their expectations of a conquering hero Messiah. But they didn’t get it the second time, either.  Soon they were arguing among themselves over which of them was the greatest.  Jesus challenged them on that: “Whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all.”  Then, putting a child in their midst, he added, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me and the one who sent me.”  And what did the disciples do?  When a group of children came to see Jesus, the disciples tried to chase them away.  Jesus was annoyed.  He stressed yet again, “You have to receive the kingdom of God as a gift like a helpless child.  You must become as a child or you’ll never enter it.”

The third time, in our lesson today, Jesus gave the grimmest description of all of what was going to happen to him: “Now look,” he said to the twelve, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the religious leaders, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles, and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

Did the disciples get it this time?  No!  The next thing you know, James and John were asking Jesus to give them the best seats in his royal cabinet.  They tried to maneuver their way to the top of the heap.  This made the other ten disciples angry.  They wanted the same reward, but to their consternation, James and John managed to speak to Jesus first.

What was with those disciples?  Jesus just got through describing the ordeal that lay ahead, and here his closest friends were focused on the special privileges they wanted—and that they felt they deserved.  (more…)

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