Summary: He came to serve others
Reading: Matthew Chapter 20 verses 27-28.
• If there is one word in the English language that is sure to cause a debate when spoken,
• That word is “greatest.”
• In fact, take two people, any people,
• And you can always stir-up trouble by using this simple word.
• Ask a Southampton fan and a Portsmouth fan who’s the greatest football club,
• And watch the sparks fly.
• Ask two mechanics what is the greatest car ever made;
• And they will eagerly debate their opinion.
• Ask two people who the greatest prime minister or the greatest politician was,
• And they’ll chase that rabbit as long as they have breath to do so.
• Ask two Christians which is the greatest Bible translation.
• Or which is the greatest hymn book, or hymn?
• There is something about that word “greatest” that stirs something inside of us.
• Question: Why?
• Because greatness is something we aspire to, greatness is something we care about.
(1). A Parable (verses 1-16).
• Which illustrates his own words in chapter 19 verse 30:
• “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”.
• The parable teaches that God’s ways and human ways are often not the same,
• The parable illustrated God’s generosity, not his unfairness.
• The parable again ended with the punch-line in chapter 20 verse 16:
• “So the last will be first, and the first will be last”.
(2). An announcement (verses 17-19).
• For the third time, Jesus has announced to his disciples:
• That he will be arrested, crucified, and also his resurrection (see 16:21; 17:22).
• In the two previous announcements,
• He had not specified how He would die. But now He clearly mentioned the cross.
• And he also clearly mentioned His resurrection,
• But the message did not penetrate the disciples’ hearts, they were so slow to understand!
Quote: Luke in his gospel tells us (chapter 18 verses 34):
“The disciples were thoroughly bewildered, not being able to digest the words spoken by Jesus”.
• They knew that something was weighing heavy on his heart and mind.
• But they were unaware of what that something was.
So to help them understand:
• Jesus took the 12 aside from the others disciples who were also following him:
• And he simply explained to them the events that were going to happen.
In doing so, Jesus pointed out the extent of his sufferings:
• These sufferings would affect every area of his person;
• Look at the description he gives:
• “He would be betrayed” (verse 18).
• That statement reveals the suffering of a heart broken by the disloyalty of friends.
• He was to be “condemned to death” (verse 18).
• There we see the suffering of injustice, which is extremely difficult to bear.
• He was to be “Mocked” by the Romans (verse 19).
• There we see the suffering of humiliation and deliberate insult.
• He was to be “Flogged & crucified” (verse 19).
• There we see the suffering of physical pain.
In a few days time:
• Jesus was going to take upon himself; every possible kind of;
• Physical and emotional and mental suffering that the world could inflict.
Now In contrast to this announcement of suffering and death;
• We have the request of James and John and their mother,
• Incredible to think that while Jesus spoke about a cross,
• They were interested in a crown.
• As Jesus talked about pain and humiliation, they were dreaming of glory and honour.
• Had they not just listened to the parable of the workers in the vineyard;
• Where the punch-line in verse 16 clearly said: “The first will be last”?
• The answer is yes!
• But like us these disciples are only human.
• And like us I guess they picked and chose the bits they liked and felt appropriate,
• And conveniently forgot or filed away the difficult bits.
• Before we criticize what they did,
• Let’s notice some commendable features in this event.
(A). The Zebedees
(1). They were possibly related to Jesus.
Most scholars believe the mother of James and John was named Salome:
• A bit of detection work on the Bible passages around the cross.
• Would seem to infer that this was her name.
• If you compare Matthew chapter 27 verse 56,
• With Mark chapter 15 verse 40 and John chapter 19 verse 25.
• You come up with a list of women who were at the cross of Jesus.
• When you put the list together:
• One person is always present but described differently each time;