Summary: A sermon from the perspective of John, which explores that Jesus helps us see that true Christianity leads us to serving in love.
Good day, I am John
Many people know me as John the Gospel writer or John the apostle who was sent to the island of Patmos as punishment for encouraging others to worship God. This punishment turned out to be a real blessing. It was on this island that God gave me a magnificent vision of what life with him is going to be like, which you can read about in the Book of Revelation.
But before I was John the apostle or John the Gospel writer, along with my brother James, I was a fisherman. Our father Zebedee ran a successful fishing business, and our future was looking pretty good. But then one day as we were preparing for another days fishing, all this changed. We hadn’t planned for the change, but it happened.
It happened all because of one man, Jesus. Jesus came walking along the shore, with two other fishermen, Simon and Andrew. There was something special about Jesus that attracted us to him, at the time we weren’t quite sure what it was but we felt in following him we felt we would be involved in something much bigger than just fishing. So, when he invited us to join him, without hesitation James and I left behind our future with dad and the fishing boats and followed Jesus. We joined his team.
After a while, James and I felt that being one of his early followers, we will be rewarded and considered special, we believed we deserved some recognition.
That’s how it should be, don’t you think?
We thought Jesus will surely give us some prestigious position in his team.
Well we soon discovered that Jesus has a different approach to life. This approach is in fact a better approach to life.
It all happened one day as we were heading to Jerusalem. We had been following Jesus for some years, learning from him and I thought we had been pretty loyal. Jesus had been saying some strange things about dieing and rising again. At the time I didn’t quite understand what he was meaning, but if he meant he was literally going to die James and I wanted to make sure Jesus looked after us. So we put it to him, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Now we knew we could never be as perfect as Jesus but surely, we have proven ourselves. We gave up a successful fishing business and we have been loyal to him, surely we thought he will reward us with some honour and glory.
Don’t you think that is how it should be? Well if you do, like we were, you are in for a little bit of a shock.
It wasn’t long after our request that Jesus revealed to us one of the important lessons of being a Christian.
That being a Christian is not about being better than someone else, having a more superior position, nor is it about having power over someone else…listen to what he said “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:42-44)
This changed my whole understanding about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
Up until this point I had been following Jesus for my own personal benefit. Now don’t get me wrong there are benefits for you and me in following Jesus. The best one being, is we have life with God forever, because of what Jesus did for us and continues to do for us. And because of this I don’t have to worry if I am good enough. But being a follower of Jesus is not just about focusing on what I want and what I like. We don’t just have a relationship with Jesus just so we can benefit.
In fact in following Jesus we are led into a life of serving others, no matter who we are. And it is a special type of service. The reality is everyday people are serving us, but most of the time they are serving us, so they can get something from us or they can benefit from someone else. But this is not the approach to service Jesus is talking about. The type of service Jesus is encouraging us to live out is one of really serving others, so they benefit.
A good friend of mine Paul when he was helping a group of Christians in Corinth to understand what it means to follow Jesus with service, explained that the service we carry out is not just one of action, but importantly action carried out in love. Listen to how he explained it; If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)