Summary: Discover the importance of servanthood.
I. Less Than and Greater Than
A. Text: Matthew 20:20-28
B. It’s easy in our society to get things backwards; mixed up. We live in a backwards society. Everything we as a society does is opposite of what God’s Word says we should.
1. Remember, Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (NIV)
C. This is how it is with leadership. We have got things turned around. Backwards.
D. In our text, we find a mother who has the same problem. She comes to Jesus, with a sincere heart, but a confused one. Asking Jesus if her two sons (James & John, the sons of Zebedee) would be granted the honor of sitting at Jesus’ right hand in glory.
E. Jesus’ answer was simple. Speaking to the two men, He asks, “Are you sure you know what you are asking? Are you prepared to endure the same suffering and persecution that I am about to suffer?”
F. Their answer was simply, “yes.”
G. However, as Jesus responded, it is not His decision who will be sitting at His right hand. That decision belongs to the Father.
H. He goes on to tell them, as well as the other disciples present, that, while in the world’s social order, those in authority have power over those under them, in God’s Kingdom, those who have authority will be those who have learned how to serve!
I. This is what I want to speak to you about today: servant hood!
II. No More Word Twisters!
The children of a prominent family decided to give their father a book of the family’s history for a birthday present. They commissioned a professional biographer to do the work, carefully warning him of the family’s “black sheep” problem: Uncle George, who had been executed in the electric chair for murder. “I can handle that situation,” he said, “so that there will be no embarrassment. I’ll merely say that Uncle George was occupied by a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock.”
B. Too often we hear of things without really understanding the hidden truth therein.
C. In our TV-addicted society, our children are learning at a very tender age that twisting reality with words is to be expected and accepted in the game of everyday life. It seems today that the norm is to twist the truth until it satisfies the hearer…this is evident today -even in a former White House administration.
D. Then, when we bring these children to church, is there any reason why they should not believe that we, too, are willing to participate in this everyday game of “say-one-thing-mean-another?” They see some of their parents do it. They see their teachers do it. They see celebrities on TV do it. They see sports heroes do it. Why not the Body of Christ?
E. Because it’s important to understand here, that, whatever God speaks in His Word…He means it!
F. This holds true to Jesus’ words in our text today. Jesus wasn’t trying to skirt around some issue of leadership verses servant hood. He wasn’t trying to “parableize” this message of being a servant! He spoke what He meant!
G. I’m not sure how we have taken this message and perverted it to come out to our best interests, but we must be careful when we do that with God’s Word.
H. His words were quite plain and simple, simple enough for a young child to understand: “If you want to become the greatest in the Kingdom of God, you must first become a servant.” The greatest in God’s Kingdom are always those with a servant’s heart.
I. In just four verses prior to our text, Jesus was speaking of the parable of the workers in the vineyard. He finishes His story with what is to be one of His most quoted sentences: “…the last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16, NIV)
J. Then, in our text, verse 27, again He says that if you want to be first in God’s Kingdom, you must become a slave.
K. Here there is no twisting of words, no twisting of reality to the question, ‘who should be regarded as the greatest.’ The person who serves is the greater.
L. Let’s not forget, Jesus repeatedly described God’s judgments in terms of how we feed and clothe and otherwise minister to the least of our brothers and sisters. It is not our position that counts; it is what we do with it that matters. It is not the mere ability to exercise authority that matters, what really matters is how we exercise that authority!