Summary: Greatness can only be achieved by doing things with compassion and mercy.
The first O.J. trial made DNA a household word. For hours and days on end we all sat in front of out TV’s and took a crash course on what DNA was and how forensic evidence would prove without a doubt who the real killer was. But in the end all that it illustrated was that even if the forensic evidence is unquestionable, it can still be, well, questioned. But since the mid 1800’s there has been a irrefutable type of evidence, fingerprints.
Sir William Herschel first used fingerprints in July 1858 on native contracts. On a whim, and with no thought toward personal identification, Herschel had a local businessman, impress his handprint on the back of a contract.
The idea was merely, “to frighten him out of all thought of denying his signature." The native was properly impressed, and Herschel made a habit of requiring palm prints, and later, simply the prints of the right index and middle fingers on every contract made with the locals.
Personal contact with the document, they believed, made the contract more binding than if they simply signed it. Thus, the first wide-scale, modern-day use of fingerprints was started, not upon scientific evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs.
As his fingerprint collection grew, however, Herschel began to note that the inked impressions could, indeed, prove or disprove identity. While his experience with fingerprinting was admittedly limited, Sir Herschel’s private conviction that all fingerprints were unique to the individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual’s life.
In 1880, a British surgeon named Dr. Henry Faulds took up a study of skin grooves after he noticed finger marks on pieces of pre-historic pottery. He developed a system of identification and forwarded his findings to Charles Darwin.
Darwin sent the material to his cousin, Sir Francis Galeton. In 1892, Galeton published one of the most significant books in forensic history, titled simply, Fingerprints. Galeton’s book scientifically proved two facts that still stand today; that not two fingerprints are exactly alike and that fingerprints do not change over a life time. They are unique and permanent. Galeton recognized twelve characteristics by which fingerprints may be identified. These characteristics are basically still in use today and referred to as Galeton’s details.
OK, I know, as much as you would like to continue this discussion on forensic history, this isn’t the police academy. This is a faith academy. So you are probably asking what do fingerprints have to do with faith?
I would like to make the suggestion that just like everything you touch you leave a fingerprint or an impression in the same way whenever you serve someone, in your own unique way, you permanently leave an impression on them and alter the course of that person’s life. To serve someone is to leave in their lives the fingerprints of faith.
Our text today will be from Matthew 20:20 - 34. Let’s listen to the text together and set the groundwork for our sermon today. (Read text, pray).
It’s interesting to me that Matthew tells us that the mother of James and John knelt before Jesus to ask him a favor. She might have been physically kneeling, but I believe that in her heart she was standing straight. You know just being in the right posture doesn’t mean you are in the right frame of heart.
She was asking for a favor, and a few moments later the blind men in this passage were begging for a blessing and I believe that there is a world of difference between the two. Sometimes when times are tough and we don’t have anywhere else to turn we come to Jesus all bent over in need of a blessing. And sometimes we come and make a great show of kneeling when what we are looking for is a favor. Don’t confuse the two.
She wanted positions of honor for her two boys. But there was something in it for her, you know. If Jesus granted this favor, it meant that every time she opened her wallet to show off pictures of her kids she could say, "And that’s James on the left and John on the right and there in the middle is Jesus, Lord and Master of the universe. So how are your boys doing?"
People were living vicariously through their children then, just as now. And this would be big stuff. You know every time I go to somewhere with my mom, whether it’s the hospital for treatments, or Target when we see someone she knows the introduction is never, “And this is Jeremy my youngest son who is married to Trista and who has given me two wonderful Grandsons Trafton and Rylan. It is always this is my son Jeremy; He’s a preacher in Scuffelgrit.
Don’t for one-minute excuse this woman’s power play as the humble request of a loving mother. Both she and her sons were after the same things; power, position and all the perks that come with them.