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Summary: Growing in the area of service for Christ

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Building a Life of Service

Matthew 20:20-28

Scripture reading (25-28)

How would you define greatness Some might say that greatness is connections and influence. If you went to Wall Street and asked people there, "What's the secret of greatness?" They'd say financial clout and a big portfolio. Well, maybe not right now with the stock market down by almost 50% but in normal times that is what a lot of folks would say. Some would use the name of a person in popular culture like Tiger Woods or Brad Pitt or the late Mother Teresa.

God says, "My definition is very different." God says that things don't last and that people fade into distance memory. You're not going to remember them. God says what's going to last is service. God says the secret of a great life is you're never going to be great, until you learn to serve. Listen to what Jesus says in

Matthew 20:26

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Write these words, "great" and "servant". The Bible says those go together. We all know that great teachers serve their students. We know that great salespeople serve their customers. We know that the key to being a great leader is to serve your followers. The key to being great at anything -- a great manager serves the workers or the employees.

God says the way to Up is Down. The more you serve the greater you are. If I were to ask you, "What two words best define the Christian life?" Summarize all of Christianity in two words; I would pick the words "give" and "serve". That's what Jesus did.

Jesus said, "serve others" and "give my life" -- That summarizes the Christian life. Unless I learn how to serve others and unless I learn how to give my life away, I will never be like Jesus Christ. I may claim to be a Christian. I may have doctrine or thoughts or ideas in my mind, but I'm not really a true believer unless I learn how to serve and I learn how to give.

The Bible says in;

James 1:22,

"But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

God says "I don't want you to just listen to what I say; I want you to act on it, apply it. I want you to work it out in your life. The Bible says that you should give your life in service to God and to other people, and that serving God should be the number one priority over your career, over your hobbies, over everything else in your life. God says the top priority in your life after loving God and getting to know Him should be serving other people. Why does He say that?

The incident in our text seems to have occurred not long after Jesus had talked about the promise of the 12 thrones in ch. 19:28 where the Lord speaks of the kingdom and is significant because it shows how great was the disciples

misunderstanding was concerning this important truth.

I. The exposure of the servants' v. 20-24

The mother of James and John was Salome who was thought to be a sister to Mary the mother of our Lord. Why she approaches the Lord instead of her two sons can only be guessed at; perhaps they thought her close family ties with Jesus would move him to make a concession for them but for whatever reason Salome comes to Jesus and asks a promise from the Lord. She wants a promise before she asks her favor but the Lord is having none of that and so he compels her to reveal her request. Simply put, it did not matter whether it was her idea or her two sons, they were jockeying for position in the coming Messianic kingdom that they thought would be established very shortly. The Lord had announced two things to them; the coming kingdom and his imminent suffering and death. They ignored the significance of the latter and focused their attentions on the former. Jesus responds by speaking directly to James and John he let's them know that there is a price to be paid for what they ask. They indicate their willingness to embrace the conditions set by the Lord and he in turn prophesies their destiny. Undoubtedly, the other disciples overhear this conversation and get up in arms, most probably, not because they realize the unseemly ambitions of their fellow disciples but because they themselves don't want to be left out and are jealous. So Jesus proceeds to give;


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