Summary: Gospel Shaped Living – Week 3: ‘A serving church in a selfish world’ – Matthew chapter 20 verses 20-28 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:

Reading: Matthew chapter 20 verses 20-28.


(1). Serving others is sacrificial (vs 17-19)

(2). Serving others is not self-centred (vs 21-25).

(2). Serving others is demonstrated by Jesus (vs 26-28).



• Late in his life Winston Churchill took a cruise on an Italian ship.

• A journalist realised that there was a story in this,

• So he encountered the former prime minister to ask him;

• Why he chose to travel on an Italian liner when he could have gone on a British ship.

• Churchill thought for a moment and then replied:

• “There are three things I like about Italian ships.

• First, their cuisine, which is unsurpassed.

• Second, their service, which is quite superb.”

• And then Sir Winston added,

• “And then there is none of this nonsense about women and children first.”

• TRANSITION: Selfishness is a character trait we all have to battle with.

• All of us are tempted to orients our behaviour, feelings and thoughts;

• Around our own self-fulfilment.

• In doing so we must disregard the impact of our actions on others.

• Question: But are humans naturally selfish?

• Answer/Quote: Professor Jay Hoffman of The College of New Jersey writes,

“If you don't think most of humanity is selfish, try going shopping early on Black Friday…Or try yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre. And driving anywhere these days one sees a horrific display of selfishness. Drivers are aggressively competing to get ahead of each other…”

Quote: Stephen Kendrick, ‘The Love Dare’

“Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves.”

• TRANSITION: In these verses;

• Jesus calls us to live a life of serving others.

• Quote:

• “We all like to be called servants, until somebody treats us like one!”

• Serving costs. It requires humility. It requires sacrifice.

• It may lead to being misunderstood.

• It will lead to being un-thanked and unappreciated.

• When we consider the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ,

• He was misunderstood, despised, mocked and rejected.

• Serving can be hard

Servanthood was a key feature in the life of Christ (verse 28):


• The earliest Christian hymn that we know about was a hymn about Jesus.

• It's found in Philippians chapter 2;

• And although we do not have the tune, the words go like this:.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross."


• Jesus did not pretend to be a servant;

• He was not an actor playing a role, he became a real servant;

• To describe his servant-hood the apostle Paul;

• Deliberately uses a specific Greek word that in English can be translated ‘servant’;

• He chose the Greek word ‘Doulos’ which actually means ‘Slave.’

• In our times and culture we kind of find it hard to appreciate what that means.

• But in the ancient world everyone knew that a slave was a servant;

• Who was under the authority of another.

• His one purpose was to obey and please his master!

Jesus chose to be a ‘Doulos’ a ‘Slave.’ to the world he had created!

• Have you noticed as you read the gospels ;

• It is Jesus who serves others, not others who serve Jesus.

• He is always at the beck and call of other people:

• Fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, the sick, the sorrowful.

• They were constantly making demands upon him;

• And throughout his life Jesus did not think selfishly about himself;

• He put others first!

Question: If you had to describe Jesus in two words, what would you use?

• e.g. Wise and powerful,

• e.g. Phenomenal and great.

• e.g. Holy and eternal.

• e.g. Human and divine.

• e.g. Omniscient (All-knowing) and omnipotent (All-powerful)

• All those descriptions might be true but they were not used by Jesus!

• The good news is we don’t have to guess because Jesus himself gave us the answer!


• Just once in the gospels does Jesus – in his own words – describes his inner man.

• To do this he uses just two words!

• We find them in Matthew chapter 11 verses 28-29.

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am GENTLE and HUMBLE in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

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