Summary: This sermon discusses pride, fear and shame as reasons people give for choosing not to serve.

Three Big Bad Reasons Not To Serve

Aug 29, 2010 Matt. 20:20-28


This summer we’ve been looking at the fundamentals of Christian living. For the past couple weeks, as preparation for the fall kick off of our ministries and especially our new ministry taking place on Wednesday night, we’ve been talking about the fundamental posture that Christians should have towards our world: the posture of service. We’ve looked at God the Father’s example of service towards Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21, where God makes proper clothing; and last week we looked at the example of Jesus in washing the disciple’s feet in John 13, where Jesus very bluntly says “if I’m God and I’m glad to serve, you better go serve also”.

Today I want to continue that same theme but from a different point of view. We have the example, we have the command, we have the promise of the Holy Spirit to empower, so the question for today is quite simply: they why don’t we? What stops us? What keeps us from serving? To start us thinking about this, why don’t you call out some reasons that come to mind and I’ll write them on the flip chart here.

I was driving home the other day, and driving is generally my time of quiet where my mind is free to wander around the issues, problems, ideas, and significant things going on in my life, and I was just thinking further about an email after last week’s sermon further engaging the ideas, and I suddenly had an entire sermon outline pop into mind. That isn’t normal for me… so I processed it and decided maybe it was the Holy Spirit. The thought in my mind was this: there are three big bad reasons we don’t serve, which are undercurrents in the reasons we’ve mentioned already: pride, fear, and shame. Let’s hear some stories.


The first reason not to serve is found in a story from the book of Matthew. “17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It is a familiar story with a well-remembered conclusion: “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others.” It is the same theme we saw last week when Jesus served by washing the disciple’s feet. The story starts really heavy – mocking, whipping, crucifixion, all as soon as we get to Jerusalem. The next scene, and please don’t miss the irony: James and John and their mommy, looking for extra special privilege. It is so ludicrous that it is humorous, James and John don’t ask directly, that might be too presumptuous, but mom can ask on their behalf…but they are right there, right in the middle of it, caught right up in the worldly ideas of power and kingdom and authority. “sure Jesus, whatever we have to do to get those positions of power that we deserve because of what great disciples we are…”

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