Summary: James and John thought they were pulling a fast one. But their values were updside down.
Passage: Matthew 20:20-28
Intro: The great thing about studying a book all the way thru is that you begin to identify recurring themes.
1. and the Bible is a book where repetition means emphasis, because it is essentially a Hebrew book.
2. ever since the Beatitudes way back in chapter 5, and thru the Sermon on the Mount and beyond, we have seen this theme
3. all thru Matthew, conflict with Pharisees, and sometimes disciples, was this huge difference of perspective.
4. and it continues today, anywhere where the sinful human heart runs into the transforming power of God which is rescuing us from the prison of sin.
5. and here is the perfect example, played out among the disciples; these men being transformed by Jesus.
6. this is tremendously challenging at a very deep level. Let’s not turn away from what the Lord is teaching us.
I. The Self-Seeking Human Path
1. now the focus here is often on dear old mom.
2. mothers are instinctive protectors and promoters of their children.
Il) we even have a phrase, “stage moms”
These moms who constantly push their kids to the forefront, because they are so cute!!
PP Graham photo being cute!
3. we like to envision James and John standing back, embarrassed, “Oh mom, knock it off”
4. but examine a little more closely, and we find something very telling.
5. v20 “with her sons” they were right there!
6. v21 “what do you want?” Singular!
7. to promote her boys to positions of great power and authority.
8. and after she tells what he wants, Jesus smells something fishy.
9. next question directed “to them”, also in the plural…”you all are asking”
10. and who answers in v22? The boys!
11. no question, they were seeking position in a time-honored way.
12. many think their mom (Salome) was in fact Jesus’ aunt! Cousins?
13. so in typical human fashion, these two were pushing to be given positions of high authority… power grab!!
14. and people who grab for power and grabbing for their own benefit.
Il) and when the other disciples found out, their flesh got fully involved too.
15. but when Jesus asks them if they can drink he is going to drink, He is going very deep.
16. because the kingdom of God has different values for it’s leaders.
PP Carson “to ask to reign with Jesus is to ask to suffer with him.” (that must be in the fine print.)
17. bottom line: you can’t be part of the kingdom of God if your question is “what’s in it for me”
18. and evangelism which seeks to convince people that the Christian life is some kind of flesh-satisfying walk in the park is a lie.
19. to reflect the King, the people of God’s kingdom are being transformed away from the typical human value system of self-seeking.
20. and into what?
II. The Self-Denying Divine Path
1. now recognize that this path will cause an immediate and violent reaction from our flesh!!
2. I wonder if the response of indignation on the part of the 10 disciples was because they hadn’t thought of it first.
3. but look at our gentle Savior, who takes the opportunity to instruct all of His followers in the ways of God’s kingdom.
4. “the rulers of the Gentiles”…this would have made their skin crawl.. . ethnos!
5. they are in it for power, to “exercise authority,” to have a say in what goes on.
6. but then, in v26. this 4 word phrase
7. “not so with you” fits into Matthew recurring theme.
8. he has already implied to James and John that it will involve suffering.
9. and indeed James died rather early.
PP Acts 12:2
10. John ended his life in prison exile on the Isle of Patmos
11. what’s in it for you? Suffering here, but a fantastic retirement plan!
12. but more than just a quick death (and hopefully painless)and then heaven.
13. instead, (v26) a path to greatness and usefulness and effectiveness so stunning that we still struggle with it.
14. become the servant of these other guys.
15. v27, “you want to be first? Become everyone’s slave.” Sound familiar?
16. this goes vey deep, to the depths of our self image, who we are.
17. and not many of us aspire to be a servant.
18. but to reflect the heart of the King, the people of the kingdom are being transformed away from the sinful human value system of self-promotion and self-gratification, and into a life of self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of others.
19. brothers and sisters, one of the hardest things about this call to servanthood is that we find few models of it. Show me!