Summary: If we want to improve our serve we must monitor our motives, prepare for problems, exalt others and follow the example of Christ.
Improving Your Serve
Rev. Brian Bill
March 25-26, 2017
As a mother was preparing pancakes for her two young sons, Kevin and Ryan, they began to argue over who would get the first one. Not wanting to miss a teachable moment, the mom said: “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’” Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “OK, Ryan. You be Jesus!”
I’m making an assumption that while Edgewood is saturated with servants, each of us can ratchet up our servanthood quotient. The trouble is that our default setting is selfishness, not other-centeredness. In order to improve our serve we must seek the Savior and follow the model of the Master.
You and I have been redeemed for a reason. Another way to say it is that we’ve been saved to serve and mobilized for ministry. As we gather and grow, we can’t help but GIVE and go.
4 Ways to Become a Servant
Last week we parked in Mark 10:32-34 where we learned that Jesus fullfilled past prophecies as well as eight future predictions: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man  will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes,  and they will condemn him to death and  deliver him over to the Gentiles.  And they will mock him and  spit on him, and  flog him and  kill him.  And after three days he will rise.”
Right after hearing this, check out what two of the disciples do in verse 35: “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’” It didn’t take them long to move from being amazed and afraid to having an attitude of arrogance. They went from feeling emotional to feeling entitled.
This isn’t the first time the followers of Christ get all caught up in who’s the best or the brightest, the first or the favorite. Right after Jesus made his first prediction of his upcoming suffering, Peter argued with Him. After His second prediction of suffering and sacrifice, the disciples argue among themselves. Jesus calls them out by asking what they were talking about in 9:34: “But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.”
The disciples never seemed to figure out the importance of selfless servanthood while Jesus was alive. In fact, during the last supper, on the night before His death, unbelievably we read these words in Luke 22:24: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
As we come to our text today, we’ll see that we’re more like those first followers than we care to admit. If we want to live differently than the disciples did, we must incorporate four attitudes and actions.
1. Monitor our motives. In Matthew 20:20-21, we see a fuller picture of what’s going on. Even though they’re called the sons of Zebedee, these men are actually “Mama’s boys.” Functioning like a helicopter parent, their mom appeals to Jesus on their behalf: “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’”
This mother’s name was Salome, who was likely the aunt of Jesus. Maybe James and John thought she’d be able to pull some family strings for them.
When we go back to Mark’s account, amazingly, these guys ask for a blank check from Jesus: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” They want Jesus to say, ‘yes’ even before He hears what they want. They’re treating Jesus like a Genie who will grant them their wishes.
Before we get too hard on them, don’t we often do the same when we are demanding towards Him? Some even use “name it and claim it” language as if just declaring what we want will make it so. Listen. Instead of saying to the Savior, “We want you to do whatever we ask of you,” we should be praying something like this: “We want to do for you whatever YOU ask of us.”
In verse 36, Jesus asks them to put their request into words in order to reveal their own self-centered selfishness: “And He said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” They’re ready with their rehearsed request in verse 37: “And they said to Him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’” The word “grant” can be translated as, “bestow.” One translation puts it like this: “Bestow to us at once!” To sit at the right hand is the highest cabinet position and the seat on the left hand is just below that.