Summary: How we treat others is a measure of our faith in God and a demonstration of it to the world around us.

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First or Last

James 5: 13 – 20 / Mark 9: 30-37

Intro: A new young pastor was calling on the elderly in his congregation who could no longer go to church. He went to visit Aunt Sally, who was quite old and in a nursing home. He was somewhat nervous and kept eating peanuts from a bowl beside her bed. When he got up to leave, he noticed he had eaten all of the peanuts. “I’m so sorry. I absent-mindedly ate all your peanuts without asking if I might have some.” “Oh, that’s all right,” Aunt Sally said. “I’d already gummed all of the chocolate off of them anyhow.” VS 31-32 – disciples can’t or don’t understand and afraid to ask questions.

I. Disciples thinking of Jesus as “earthly” ruler. Who would have what rank. Who shall be greatest?

A. Jesus questions – disciples are mute – silence of shame. OK as long as Jesus wasn’t listening. VS 33

B. Pastor enters the room and there is dead silence.

C. Urge to be “greatest” can get inside the church – Status, in-crowd. --- All deeds are done, all words spoken in the presence of God.

II. Jesus sat down – important – rabbi teaching VS. 35

A. First must be last / world turned upside down / If Jesus picked “leading citizen” “outstanding member”

B. Seems to be speaking against ambition / not so / Substitute ambition to rule with ambition to serve / Ambition to have things done for you with doing for others.

C. JFK – “Ask not . . .” – Are you living BCE or AD?

III. To bring home point – Jesus takes child in his arms VS. 36-37

A. Child in antiquity was non-person / property

B. Child cannot advance career or enhance prestige. Difficult for volunteers to treat people they help with dignity.

C. How children are treated is the final test of a society.

Conclu: There was a poor family in this little town. Brought to the attention of the Baptist minister who got the word to his congregation and provided appropriate clothing to the family asking them to come to church the next Sunday. They agreed. When Sunday came they didn’t show up at the Baptist Church. The minister went to visit and asked why. “When we got all cleaned up and got on those nice clothes you brought, we looked so good we decided to go to the Presbyterian Church.” One of the things we learn from this passage is that how we treat other is important.

Illustrations in this sermon were taken from The Preacher Joke Book, editedd by Loyal Jones)

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