Summary: God’s description of who is great in the kingdom of God is a servant. Our rewards in heaven will be great

Thrones in Heaven

Matthew 20:20-28

Primary Purpose: To discuss who is great in the kingdom of God.

One of the characteristics of most of the disciples including James and John was that they were seekers. They studied and sought out the kingdom of God. They sought to make themselves disciples of God. John and James were probably disciples of John the Baptist before Jesus arrived. By looking at what kind of lifestyle John the Baptist followed, you could imagine that there may be some stringent requirements to get into that group of disciples. They were willing to sacrifice themselves in this process of seeking greatness in God’s kingdom. This is to be admired. We should all strive to be seekers.

It seems they put their mother Salome up to asking Jesus a difficult thing. Maybe they thought if she asked he would be more likely to do it. Mothers have a way of getting what they want sometimes. It is possible that she also had asperations for her sons. One of the problems was that they didn’t understand that servanthood is the pathway to greatness in God’s kingdom. God judges greatness not by money or power or the things of this world. Greatness is defined by sacrificial love demonstrated in loving service.

Jesus repeatedly made comments such as “The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matt 23:11. When they argued with each other about who was the greatest. Jesus would pull a child aside to them and say “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all- he is the greatest.” Lk 9:48

Jesus taught that great rewards wait for those who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness on earth now. Your service and hard work will be recognized one day. You have a reward waiting for you that you can’t even imagine now. Jesus said he will reward those who:

1. Practice self-denial Matt 16:24-27 Fred Craddock once said, “We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table- “Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.” “But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, “Get lost.” Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.” quote from Darryl Bell, Minnesota, quoted in Leadership, Fall Quater, 1984.

I think part of our willingness to sacrifice and suffer for the kingdom of God is found in Christ’s example. He willing suffered and died for us. We should then be willing to follow His example.

Phil 2:5-8 says that our attitudes should be the same as Jesus Christ.

“Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross.”

2. Practice unselfish service to others Mk 9:41 God sees every thing that we do even if it is just to give a cold cup of water in His name.

The important thing isn’t what we are doing,but whether or not we are being faithful to do what He has called us to.

John Newton, writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” said,

“if two angels in heaven were given assignments by God at the same time, one of them to go and rule over the greatest nation on earth and the other to go sweep the streets in the dirtiest village,e ach angel would be completely indifferent as to which one got which assignment.

It simply wouldn’t matter to them. Why? Because the real joy lies in being obedient to God. For a Christ follower, the important thing isn’t what God has us doing; the important thing is tht we’re doing what God wants us to do.” Lee Strobel in God’s Outrageous Claims

3. Suffer for His Name Lk 6:22-23 Repeatedly, Jesus promised His followers that the person who suffered on his behalf would be blessed.

The apostles rejoiced over being able to suffer for the name of Jesus Acts 5:41.

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