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So as we begin this last message in this series, let me begin by this, a little bit of a story. Now, as Jesus was coming to the end of his ministry, he was on his way to Jerusalem one afternoon. He was followed by his twelve apostles and possibly some other people. Jesus knew that this would be the last time he would go to Jerusalem because once he was there he would never leave. He knew he was going to be arrested and eventually crucified. And so he decides to kind of get his guys up to speed with what’s going on, because up until this point they’ve been very popular when they enter the city—crowds are there and people want to be close to Jesus. And if you couldn’t get close to Jesus, the next best thing was to be close to somebody who was close to Jesus.
So all the disciples, they were a little bit like rock stars at this particular juncture in their ministry. They were very, very popular. So as they are moving toward Jerusalem, Jesus knows he needs to kind of give them a dose of reality. As they’re walking together he begins to tell them what to expect and he says this: he says, When we go into Jerusalem I’m going to be arrested. I’m going to be spit upon, I’m going to be mocked, I’m going to be tried, and eventually I’m going to be put to death. And he says this in very graphic terms. He kind of gives them this list of what to expect and they’re not listening.
And apparently he says it again and they’re still just not paying any attention. Finally, James and John walk up to Jesus and they kind of push in beside him so the others can’t hear and they say, Hey Jesus, listen, sorry about that being spit on and mocked and crucified and all that stuff. But hey, hey, hey, when you become the king . . . And they kind of launch into this other conversation. They haven’t even listened. Sorry about you’re going to be beat and everything, that’s tough, but hey, when you become the king, when you’re finally on your throne, we want to know—could we sit on your left and your right? We’d like to know if we could be in positions of power. I mean it’s the most insensitive thing you’ve ever seen in the whole New Testament. Well, the other apostles see that James and John are kind of having this private conversation with Jesus and so they get indignant. They realize that James and John are asking for special entitlement, special position, and they’re like, Hey, wait a minute. We’ve been with you just as long as these two guys; that’s not fair. And they break out into this argument over who’s going to be the greatest in the kingdom of God, right after Jesus has just finished telling them, Hey, I’m going to be arrested, beat, spit upon, mocked, and put to death. It’s unbelievable.
So Jesus says, Okay, time out. And he puts the whole group in time out. Time out, he sits them down under a tree before they get to Jerusalem and he says, Okay, we’ve talked about this before, but let me go over it one more time. And he says this, he says, Look, you know how the rulers of the Gentiles and the leaders of the Gentiles, when they get power, you know how they lord it over the people they have power over. You know how they cause the people that are under them to serve them to do whatever they want them to do. And they lord it over them and rule over them—you know how that happens.