Summary: Every Christian can serve the church.

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Title: Everyone Can Serve

Text: Matthew 20:29-34

Truth: Christians are to serve the church.

Aim: I want them to commit to some area of service this year.

Life ?: What do we need to do to have a servant’s heart?


Show video clip of Hoosiers when the coach is talking to Jimmy about using his gift to play basketball.

Jimmy had a gift but he refused to use it and the team suffered. Later in the movie when Jimmy joins the team, the team goes from average to a championship contender and Jimmy is much happier.

This morning I want to have that same conversation with you. I’m inviting you to join the team this next year as we seek to take Jesus Christ to our neighbors and strengthen Christians in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Who knows what victories we might win this year, and I do know you will be much happier in your Christian life.

Matthew 20 is in the section in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem where he will be crucified. Before Jesus arrives he has a conversation with his disciples about servanthood. Two disciples ask Jesus to give them the prominent places on his left and right when He comes to power. The other disciples are angry and jealous with James and John’s blatant grab for power and prominence.

Jesus uses the occasions to teach his disciples they have the wrong understanding of leadership in his kingdom. The world measures leadership by how many people serve us. Jesus says he measures leadership by how many people we enable and empower to serve God. It’s interesting that our word “minister,” which simply means helper, has become a badge of honor and power in the religious and political world.

The story that follows, our text for the sermon, is in contrast to two disciples that demand privileges. Here are two beggars that plead only for mercy. Jesus turns down the two disciples but he grants the request of the two beggars.

The crowd tries to hush the beggars. Perhaps they feel that it is inappropriate to interrupt the Son of David as he is on the eve of his triumphant entry. But Jesus illustrates what he was teaching his disciples. He came to serve the needy not be served by the needy.

What do we need to do to have a servant’s heart?


It appears to be a simple fact, “Jesus stopped.” But if you are going to serve in this church, I need to be honest with you; it will require a significant decision for you this year. You will need to slow your pace.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and in a week he will be crucified. He has ministered in Jericho, and now He has a full and final week in front of Him. He was a busy man with many demands made on Him, but he stopped.

Some years ago two Princeton University psychologists, John Darley and Daniel Batson, decided to conduct a study inspired by the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. They met with a group of seminarians, individually, and asked each one to prepare a short, extemporaneous talk on a given biblical theme, and then walk over to a nearby building to present it. Along the way to the presentation, each student ran into a man slumped in an alley, head down, eyes closed, coughing and groaning. The question was, who would stop and help? Darley and Batson introduced three variables into the experiment, to make its results more meaningful. First, they asked each seminarian on a questionnaire why they chose to study theology. Did they do it to find a means of personal and spiritual fulfillment? Or were they looking for a practical tool for finding meaning in everyday life? Then they varied the subject of the theme the students were asked to talk about. Some were asked to speak on the relevance of the professional clergy to the religious vocation. Others were given the parable of the Good Samaritan. Finally, the instructions given by the experimenters to each student varied as well. In some of the cases, as he sent the students on their way, the experimenter would look at his watch and say, “Oh, you’re late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago. We’d better get moving.” In other cases, he would say, “It will be a few minutes before they’re ready for you, but you might as well head over now.”

If you asked people to predict which seminarians played the Good Samaritan, their answers were highly consistent. They almost all say that the students who entered the ministry to help people and those reminded of the importance of compassion by having just read the parable of the Good Samaritan will be the most likely to stop. The truth is it did not significantly increase helping behavior. The only thing that really mattered was whether the student was in a rush. Of the group that was in a rush, 10 percent stopped to help. Of the group that had time to spare, 63 percent stopped.

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