Summary: In contrast to our self-seeking ways, Jesus is the personification of servanthood. Just as He came to serve and not to be served, we’re expected to do the same. Becoming a servant means that we swim against the cultural current and follow the model of t
Becoming a Servant
Q. What do you call a chicken crossing the road?
A. Poultry in motion.
Q. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work?
A. A stick.
Q. What do you call four bullfighters in quicksand?
A. Quatro sinko.
Q. Where do you find a dog with no legs?
A. Right where you left him.
Q. What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?
A. Nacho cheese.
Q. What do you call a man who falls into an upholstery machine?
A. Fully recovered.
Q. What do you call a Christian who isn’t serving?
A. A contradiction.
This morning we’re beginning a new series called, “Improving Your Serve.” I’m making an assumption that while this church is saturated with servants, each of us can ratchet up our servanthood quotient. As we’ll discover in our text today, our default setting is selfishness, not other-centeredness. In order to improve our serve we must seek the Savior and follow the model of the Master.
You and I have been redeemed for a reason. As we learned last week from Keith Shubert, we’ve been converted to the cause of the Great Commission. Another way to say it is that we’ve been saved to serve. According to our second purpose statement that comes directly from Acts 2:45, you and I have been mobilized for ministry.
Let me summarize our six strategic IMPACT statements. If someone asks you to describe the values and mission of PBC you can tell them that we are seeking to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission by:
Instructing in God’s Word
Mobilizing for ministry
Praying with faith
Adoring God in worship
Caring for one another
Telling others the gospel
4 Ways to Become a Servant
Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 20. We’re going to walk through this passage in order to learn four ways to become better servants. Let’s set the context. In the first part of chapter 20, Jesus told a parable about some laborers who were hired to work in a vineyard. The landowner decided to pay everyone the same wage, regardless of how long they worked in the fields. Those who were hired first started to complain because they didn’t think it was fair. Jesus concluded his teaching by saying in verse 16: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Verse 19 tells us that as Jesus was headed to Jerusalem to face suffering and death, He took the disciples aside and told them that He would be “mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life.”
As we come to our text today, we’ll see that we’re really a lot like those first followers.
1. Check your motives. When we look at verses 20-21, we see that our motives can get all mixed up. In contrast to this announcement from the suffering servant we read that the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, “and kneeling down, asked a favor of Him.” This mother’s name was Salome, who was likely the aunt of Jesus. When we compare this account with Mark’s version, James and John are eager to have their mom go to bat for them. Maybe they knew that they’d have a better chance with Jesus if she made the request for them.
The phrase “kneeling down” is an act of homage or reverence. Some translations use the word “worship.” Salome is following a very common protocol. First, she respects and honors Jesus and then asks a favor of Him. She begins with a general request and then is ready with her answer when Jesus asks, “What is it you want?” She responds by saying, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
Now, before we get too tough on Salome, Jesus did say in Matthew 19:28 that “at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” She got that part right but her methods were clouded because her motives were mixed up. While it’s perfectly understandable that a mother would want the best for her boys, she passed right over Matthew 19:30: “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” and Matthew 20:16: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Warren Wiersbe comments, “Jesus spoke about a cross, but they were interested in a crown.”
It’s really easy for our motives to get out of whack. James and John were interested in glory, position and rank. They wanted to be the closest to Jesus and they wanted to be higher than anyone else. And their mother desired the best for them. The name “Salome” means clothing or clothed. And clothing, like motives, can be good or bad. Our clothes can be used to protect and shield or they can conceal or hide. She came in worship but she also secretly wanted something. She bowed but also begged. She knelt down and asked a favor. All three of them wanted their will done in their way.