Summary: How greatness in the Kingdom of God is determined by our level of service to others.
I admit my humor is a little corny sometimes, but bear with me for a moment. See if you can answer these questions:
(1) What do you call a chicken crossing the road? Poultry in motion.
(2) What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work? A stick.
(3) What do you call four matadors in quicksand? Quatro sinko.
(4) What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese.
(5) What do you call a man who falls into an upholstery machine? Fully recovered.
(6) How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it.
(7) What do Eskimos get when they sit too long on the ice? Polaroids.
(8) What do you call skydiving lawyers? Skeet.
(9) What do you call a Christian who doesn’t serve others? A contradiction. There’s nothing funny about that.
This message is about how greatness in the Kingdom of God is determined by our level of service to others. In a race, there may be many runners, but first place goes to the fastest. In a few weeks at the Academy Awards, there will be many nominations, but there will only be one winner in each category, the one voted best by the 6,000 members of American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. One week from today the Steelers and Packers will face off at Cowboys Stadium in Super Bowl 45. Only one team can be awarded the first place prize of the coveted Lombardi Trophy. But in God’s eyes, first place in the Kingdom goes to those who serve.
We’ve been examining the parables and miracles of Jesus in Matthew, but I don’t want you lose a sense of where we are in the story of Jesus. At this point, Jesus is less than a week away from the cross. He’s on His way to Jerusalem, and He knows what will happen.
Matthew 20:17-28. “Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’ Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ He asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’ When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.’”
Jesus predicted exactly what would happen in Jerusalem. In mathematics, the Law of Compound Probability states that the more details you add to a prediction, the more unlikely it is to come true. For instance, I’m pulling for the Packers next week, but I believe the Steelers have the stronger team, so I predict the score will be Steelers 24 and Packers 17. That’s a common score, so there’s a slight chance I could be right. But then if I went on to predict how many first downs each team will get, how many turnovers there will be, and what the total passing and rushing yards for each team will be, then the probability of my prediction being right becomes astronomically unlikely.
Jesus made eight predictions about his death and resurrection, and each layer of prediction becomes less probable according to the laws of chance. Mathematics professor, Dr. Peter Stoner calculated the probability of eight random predictions happening are 1 in 100 quadrillion (that’s a 1 followed by 17 zeroes). Putting this into terms we can understand, take 100 quadrillion silver dollars put a red X on one of them. Then pile those silver dollars on the landscape of Texas: That many coins would cover the entire state of Texas to a depth of two feet. Then fly over the state in a helicopter and drop a blindfolded man into the pile of coins. The chances of him picking the one silver dollar with the red X on his first try is 1 in 100 quadrillion. But remember, Jesus didn’t just fulfill eight predictions about His life and death: He fulfilled dozens! How can this be? The only explanation is that He is the Son of God, God in the flesh.