Lagging Behind the Servant Savior, Round 3

 
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Yet again, the disciples are following Jesus, they love Jesus. And yet they can’t keep up with him in terms of spiritual maturity. Since he is God, everything he does is done in perfection. Meanwhile, they suffer from the same remnant of the old man like you and me.

Throughout the book of Mark this is cropped up in different arenas. Today is we are going to see it again in the area of serving.

  • An evidence of supernatural power in your life is the ability to put yourself in a position of humbly serving others. It doesn’t come naturally in the flesh, and yet it is possible to do, from the heart, in the power of the Spirit.
  • It is a glorious reality to behold—people serving one another in love. Husbands joyfully serving wives. Mothers joyfully serving children. Children joyfully serving one another. Employees joyfully serving employers, even the lame or undeserving ones. And members of the body joyfully serving one another.
  • Jesus has served us freely, from the heart because he desired to do it. And following in the path of discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ means following his footsteps.
  • True service means serving out of a concern for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Do you struggle to serve other people joyfully from the heart? Then my dear friends, encounter your Savior’s love freshly for you and the reality that his love for you is not given to you that you would merely be a holding tank, but a pump sprayer. You are loved that you might love. You have been served that you might serve. And if you don’t serve, then you don’t know your Savior well enough.
  • We all love to be served. We love to have meals prepared for us. Chores completed. Teaching content prepared. Even in the church—being poured into and discipled by others. Does that not create the desire in your heart? Inspire you to a path of joy-filled sacrifice… no clipboards or sign-up sheets at the end of the service today (although that would be a good time to do it). Rather, that the Spirit of God would stir in your heart an eagerness to serve others… at home, at church, at work, in your friendships and extended family relationships. You and I drift back into living in a self-centered reality, and God graciously calls us out of that existence and into one where we live for a greater purpose, spending our life for his glory and the betterment of others.

Allow me to set before today the paradigm that is to govern your thinking: humble sacrifice is the path to glory. Not some cheap version of servant-leadership, but a personal lowliness that serves eagerly, cheerfully, and without personal expectations.

The disciples disregard Jesus as he promotes servanthood and they promote themselves.

Three Scenes As The DisciplesDisregard Jesus’ Plan of Suffering (Again)

  1. Jesus reviews how his earthly mission will end (32-34)
  2. Jesus regulates the disciples’ desire for prominence (35-41)
  3. Jesus repeats a vision of true greatness through service (42-45)

Mark 10:32–45—32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 “But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.

42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Three Scenes As The Disciples Disregard Jesus’ Plan of Suffering (Again)

  1. Jesus reviews how his earthly mission will end (32-34)
  2. Jesus regulates the disciples’ desire for prominence (35-41)
  3. Jesus repeats a vision of true greatness through service (42-45)

Mark uses an indicator that verse 32 is background material which sets up the statement in vv. 33-34. Mark is giving us the psychological and emotional state of all the key players as well as a description of what they are doing.

(32) They were on the road going up to Jerusalem,

We are nearing Jericho at this point, 20 miles out from Jerusalem. That’s a full day’s walk. The elevation change is 3,300 feet so even in good shape, you’d probably break that one up a bit. So, they’re on the well-worn path to the capital city where God’s people go to worship in the temple.

And Mark introduces us to three groups of people:

and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful.

Jesus, them and those.

First, we have Jesus, and here he is on a mission. He has a mission to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Now it’s been two full years since Jesus has gone to Jerusalem at Passover. The situation with the scribes and Pharisees has been going from bad to worse and the relationship is now one of open hostility and disdain. Jerusalem is going into the danger zone.

But Isaiah 50:7 prophesied that Jesus would set his eyes light flint because he had God the Father’s empowerment. Jesus is walking on ahead of them. He is leading the charge, out in front, with no hesitation (another example of his obedience and perfect submission to the Father).

Then we have the disciples. They are amazed or astonished. Jesus has been astonishing people since Mark 1:27 when he taught with authority.

Why? Well just consider what you know about what’s going on right now and it becomes obvious when you put yourself in the disciples’ sandals. Jesus has been prepping them that he is gonna get killed in Jerusalem and suffer greatly. But there is no alteration to the game plan. No modification. So, they are blown away. It’s unnerving and they are astonished.

Then there’s the others who have confessed Jesus and are following him. Grammatically, it’s clear that this is a different group. These are disciples who aren’t outside of the inner circle of the twelve. And they are just flat out scared.

They’ve been told multiples times now about where Jesus is going and why.

We really can’t relate to this. I could attempt to give you a rough feel of the intensity. Let’s pretend that we are Jesus and the disciples for a minute. I’ll be Jesus.

For two years we have been doing ministry here in Albany and every so often a delegation of legislators and civic leaders comes down from Portland to publically challenge our ministry. They send biships and seminary professors, attorneys, and local governmental authorities for these hostile exchanges out in public.

Always on our minds is the last faithful pastor in the area (he was executed two years ago—i.e., John the Baptizer).

I’ve been warning everyone for some time that we are gonna make a trip up to Portland, and during that trip I’m going to be falsely charged, convicted, and condemned, resulting in the electric chair. And here we are having left Albany, we’re now in Wilsonville, about ready to enter into the city. It’s dangerous and tense for everybody.Jesus of course focuses on the goal and keeps reviewing the plan, preparing the men:

(32b) And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

Mark says, again in v. 32b. As recorded this is at least the third time they’ve had this conversation. Here Jesus adds to pieces of information that he hasn’t included yet:

  • Gentiles are going to be involved (the Roman government)
  • The mocking, spitting and scourging are all new pieces of information
  • Technically he hasn’t said Jerusalem yet, but he said the chief priests would be involved, who are located in Jerusalem. So that isn’t new information.

Not just death. Not just painful death. But humiliating to be put to death by Gentiles (unclean dogs and pigs in the eyes of Jews) and intentional humiliation.

It will of course, happen exactly as Jesus predicts right here in the text: he will be delivered by Judas, condemned at the mock trial and handed over to Pilate. Then he will be tortured, killed, and be raised in victory.

Mark is summarizing a longer conversation of course; according to Luke, Jesus is making prophetic connections here for them…

Luke 18:31—Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.

Remember this is not he first time everyone is hearing this information. Jesus is giving the class a review lesson. We’ve already heard this before. And just to refresh our mindsets, what was the response the past two times?

  • Response #1—(8:34)—Peter rebukes Jesus
  • Response #2—(9:31-37)—Disciples get into a fight (verbal) over who is going to get the best jobs in the kingdom—whose the greatest.

But they can’t piece it together:

Luke 18:34—But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.

What would be a godly response here to what Jesus is saying?

“Lord, thank you. You’re gonna die for us? You are willing to undergo all of that, for me? Was it hard to come to earth to do that? How did you learn to submit to the Father like that?”

“You would love me like that? Wow, the brings me up short. That intrigues me. I want some of that too. Teach me! Help me!”

Or maybe, “Jesus, are you okay? How are doing under the weight of this burden? What can we do to support and you and serve you in this mission? Can we pray together? Let me encourage you from the promises of God’s faithfulness in the Old Testament: be encouraged that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are saved? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Well unfortunately, that’s not how they respond…

Three Scenes As The DisciplesDisregard Jesus’ Plan of Suffering (Again)

  1. Jesus reviews how his earthly mission will end (32-34)
  2. Jesus regulates the disciples’ desire for prominence (35-41)
  3. Jesus repeats a vision of true greatness through service (42-45)

(35) James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”

Here we are, later after the suffering conversation. It wasn’t opportune to interrupt the good teacher in the middle of a conversation he was having about suffering. But shortly thereafter when they saw a moment where they could grab him and pull him aside away from the others.

This is an amazing question.

They are asking for an unqualified commitment, question unstated. They are trying to secure buy-in from Jesus before dropping their real question. Unfortunately for them, God is a pretty difficult guy to sneak past. So, Jesus responds:

(36) And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Good call, Jesus. He doesn’t take that bait. For James and John, I’m sure there was a deep breath, a glance to make sure the others were still not within earshot, and…

(37) They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”

We’ve moved pretty quickly thus far, but we need to park it here at v. 37 for a little bit and make sure we catch all that’s going on here.

Let’s start will understanding the question.

Sitting on the right and and the left hand refers to co-ruling. Essentially, they are asking Jesus if they can have the two highest-level cabinet positions in his future government. Consider in our country the highest-ranking officials after the president are: the Vice President followed by the Secretary of State.

If the president become incapable of fulfilling his duties, then the Vice President takes over. If the President and Vice President become incapable, the Secretary of State is third in line as successor.

Here’s our request: let us be the number one and number two guys when you start your new regime.

Mark is economical in the details, but there is someone else here for this conversation. It’s James, John, and mommy. According to Matthew’s account (Matthew 20:20-21) mama Zebedee is here leveraging the opportunity as well. She’s convinced that these boys deserve those positions.

I just can’t help but grin picturing the scene.

Moms just love their boys so much, and oftentimes lose objectivity when it comes to evaluating them. Their little man just outshines the rest in his good attributes, and his weaknesses aren’t that big of a deal. The truth is your boy is probably not as a great as you think he is, but it’s very sweet.

So, mama Zebedee thinks her boys are incredible. Great choice for VP and Secretary of State.

I’ll be honest, when I first read this question I thought, “what gall do these guys have… where did they come up with this?”

But that conclusion misses two key facts. Let’s back up for just a minute here and consider how we got ourselves into this situation:

  1. The concept of ruling with Jesus didn’t originate with them. Jesus is the one who first put this idea in their heads:

Matthew 19:28—And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Well that’s pretty clear. You are going to be in one of the twelve top spots. Jesus says the same thing in Luke 22:28-30. So it was Jesus who put the idea into their heads. He set the expectation of them sitting on thrones judging the nation from a position of prominence and power and influence.

Yes, sure they were supposed to be one of twelve top spots, but to think they should be number one and number two. That was clearly a self-exalting thought to have enter into their minds.

  1. Well, again. Who set that expectation? The ranking of the disciples was determined by Jesus who put James and John in a position of prominence. Remember when the synagogue official’s daughter died, and Jesus went in to raise her? Twelve men are following Jesus at that time. But…

Mark 5:37—And He [Jesus] allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.

These two are in the top 25% of the disciples. Later when Jesus was going to be transfigured, and an amazing exclusive view of the glory of God was going to be displayed, who was there? Not all twelve!

Mark 9:2—…Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;

If we want to blame someone for why James and John have ideas of personal grandeur—Jesus is the one who has talked about thrones and ruling in his kingdom. Jesus is the one who has made the distinction among them and the other twelve and given them esteemed positions.

Furthermore, Jesus keeps building expectations and getting everyone excited by whetting their appetites that something big is about to happen:

Mark 9:1—And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Why am I laboring this point? It wasn’t wrong for James and John to imagine that they would rule with Jesus or even that they would be in positions of prominence.

Can you imagine a false humility that declined the position God had placed them in? Right before the transfiguration, “hey you know what Jesus, I’ve gotten to see a few of these special displays of your glory. Thomas always gets left out, why don’t I go grab him and switch places today.”

It would have been inappropriate to correct Jesus in his sovereign choice of who had what position and what opportunity and what privilege.

God was the one who placed James and John in a position of prominence and influence. The issue is not the fact that they had prominence, but that they loved prominence and forgot that their position was for God’s glory and not theirs.

That’s the problem.

For James and John right now, kingdom of God isn’t about seeing the name and fame of Jesus Christ furthered, but about advancing the Zebedee brand in Jerusalem.

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The questions they asked on the road could have been many:

  • Jesus, what do you need right now?
  • Jesus, how can we be most useful in advancing your cause in Jerusalem?
  • Jesus, what should we be setting our minds on now so that we are prepared for what’s coming?

Instead: hey Jesus, you know I kind of hate to bring this up right now, but we never finished working out which thrones we’re gonna be sitting on, and I’d prefer to get that locked up sooner rather than later. After all, we are heading to Jerusalem, that’s the holy city. When you take over the throne of your great-great-great-great grandfather David, I want to be ready to go in your royal cabinet.

What James and John are saying is: we want glory… we love to feel personally significant.

Friends, this kind of attitude destroys your ability to serve. These guys completely missed opportunities to care for Jesus because their focus was on how they would look and appear before others. Well Jesus responds to them.

(38) But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

Jesus says, you want the glory, but are you willing to embrace the path it takes to get there? The cup is the cup of God’s wrath, this is the bitter cup that Jesus asks the Father to remove from him in the Garden as he prays in Mark 14:36.

Baptism is a reference to his death. Let’s flip the tables. You want the two top-level cabinet positions in my kingdom, but do you think you can handle what it would take to get there?

The disciples right now sound like the couch potato watching Tiger Woods play golf and saying, “man I’d love to hit the golf ball like that.” Meanwhile, he’s unwilling to ever sacrifice to work hard and practice at anything.

Tiger Woods paid a price to become great at golf. For example, it was reported in 2007 that Tiger missed the birth of his first child because he was practicing for the British Open, which he had won the previous year. As his caddie recounted, Tiger received the phone call that his wife was close to giving birth and went on to finish hitting his range balls as planned. Later he received the call that the baby was born, but instead of leaving the course, he still needed to work on his 8’ putts.

The couch potato talking about hitting an amazing drive doesn’t have a clue what it would actually take to be that good at golf. And so James and John, the brothers-of-thunder, are thinking about a crown without a cross, and glory without shame.

And they’ve just been told by God that they don’t know what they are asking.

Just a little tip, if God says you don’t know what you are asking, its probably in your best interest to pause and clarify things before you continue talking. But that’s of no consequence to them.

(39) They said to Him, “We are able.”

Oh yeah, we got this, Jesus. It ain’t no thing. Piece of cake. Let’s do this thing! Where’s the cup? You got two of them, one for each of us? Let’s chug these things—we’ll see who can drain it fastest.

And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.

Fellas, you are gonna die by having your lives taken from you unjustly for the sake of honoring God. Of course, they won’t be sacrificial deaths for sinners, but they will experience the same rejection. Later in the New Testament we read about what happened to each of these men:

Acts 12:2—And he [Herod] had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.

Revelation 1:9—I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

When you embrace Jesus you get the good, the bad and the ugly, so to speak. Or perhaps better put: sacrifice and even suffering in this life, and glory and joy in the life to come. The cross precedes the crown.

Jesus says, you’re gonna drink it, and your’re gonna be baptized by it… this of course is an opportunity to consider it joy. As Peter would encourage the church:

1 Peter 4:13—but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

Following Jesus isn’t about fulfilling your dreams of personal greatness. Following Jesus is about his greatness through whatever circumstance he places you in.

And now having said that, Jesus gives them the answer they were originally asking about. What are the seating assignments in the throneroom?

(40) “But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

Seat assignments aren’t actually my job. You guys are asking the wrong guy. I just love that Jesus has chosen to draw them out anyway. He knew what they were going to ask in the first place. When they said, “hey, will you do whatever we ask you?” he could have said at that point, “not your guy… go ask the Father.” But Jesus wants to teach them so he lets them talk.

Jesus here again demonstrates the consistent testimony of Scripture in the roles of the Trinity—Jesus is equally God with the Father, and yet in role submits to his plan.

And now that’s the call to you and me in our service as well. Trust the Father’s plan. He can exalt you any time he wants to. He could give you influence and position, he could cause you to rise the ranks in the eyes of men. Or he could keep you lowly. Jesus is setting that responsibility back on the Father.

It isn’t theoretical for Jesus. Philippians 2 is a great cross reference to this passage. And there Jesus doesn’t fight for his own rights, and then Paul says it is for this reason. For the reason that Jesus was humble that God the Father will exalt him at the proper time.

Trust the Father for whatever position he places you in.

Irony of course here for James and John is that when Jesus is lifted up in short order on his right and his left are men being executed on crosses. They aren’t going to want to be that close when Jesus gives up his life.

Well, selfish ambition hurts others and stirs up strife. And that’s exactly what happens here:

(41) Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.

We don’t know if one of the guys came up while the conversation was still taking place. Perhaps after they rejoined the group Jesus said something—hey guys, looping on the question you asked about first and second position…

You’d be angry too. This is not a small matter.

Your (supposed) friends just went behind your back in self-interest to build an alliance and secure their own personal interests over-against yours. It was motivated by selfish ambition and it was a betrayal.

Indignant. That means: ticked off, exercised, really upset, incensed. You can see the expression. “How could you guys?” Of course, what this exposes in their hearts is the fear that they just lost ground on the dignity and prominence that they wanted just as much.

We speak of how blinding sin is. Look at what it did here.

Talk about a missed opportunity! Jesus is a man carrying a distressing burden (Luke 12:50) about a difficult task looming on the horizon. Enter perfect opportunity for your friends to serve you!

My friends self-absorbed people fail to recognize needs around them, and they blow opportunities to be a ministry to others. The disciples are so accustomed to Jesus serving them that when he’s in need on the way to Jerusalem, they are still coming to him to be served.

What’s behind all of this? People who believe that their own sense of significance is defined by their prominence, their title, their rank, their role. Each of those men wanted to be prominent and believed that he deserved to be prominent.

Time for a lesson, boys:

Three Scenes As The DisciplesDisregard Jesus’ Plan of Suffering (Again)

  1. Jesus reviews how his earthly mission will end (32-34)
  2. Jesus regulates the disciples’ desire for prominence (35-41)
  3. Jesus repeats a vision of true greatness through service (42-45)

(42) Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.

Jesus says, in the world you see the power centers and power struggles. He doesn’t call them rulers, but those who are recognized as rulers. In that day and age, it was the political climate of Rome with various leaders competing for position—it was dog-eat-dog.

The faces of emperors were minted onto the coins. If that isn’t lording it over people. You know that the strongest and shrewdest make it to the top. Once they get there, they exercise power and influence to stay in that position.

(43) “But it is not this way among you,

My people are to be different…

but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

I want you to adopt a counter-intuitive value-system. Rather than esteeming the positions of power and prominence in the eyes of men, make much of God through humbling yourself and let him exalt you in the proper time.

This isn’t just counter-cultural for us. Evans comments:

In the Greek world διακονία, “service,” was the opposite of happiness, as Plato says: “How can one be happy when he has to serve [διακονεῖν] someone?” (Gorg. 491e).

The Jews had a higher regard for service than the culture around them. Our culture today gives lip service to this about serving others. But meanwhile we say things like: you have to stand up for yourself, you can’t let anyone rain on your parade, you need to do what makes you happy, think about yourself and take care of yourself, get rid of toxic relationships… biblical translation: serve yourself.

Don’t give up your personal rights to serve someone.

Where is this challenged for us? Many places. But as the ministry continues to develop here at CBC this is going to become an opportunity, and get challenged. We’ve talked about these before, but it is a topic that Jesus had to keep teaching the disciples about and we need to keep hearing about as well.

You can apply these at home, at work at church. What are the fruits of servant-mindedness that Jesus is after here. I’m thankful for the fruit of this I see at CBC, but we are going to continue to be tested in these things.

  • Serving at great cost without the expectation of being recognized or even thanked.
  • Refusing to compare yourself to the gifts of others
  • Not coveting the gifting or privileges of others
  • Being okay when somebody else gets an opportunity you wanted (could be someone that you esteem less qualified, or newer)—that’s one that shows up at church or at work
  • A relationship that has been close for you for a long time and then someone else cuts in and takes your place
  • Someone you know gets a privilege that you’ve had your eye on for a long time (a promotion, time with an important person)
  • Your personal preferences always seem to get sidelined and things go a different direction than you would take them or like to see them go

Listen, you want to see a healthy church that s protected? It’s when God’s people submit these things to him. But is not this way among you. Unbelievers and the world can have that way of thinking. You are loved by God and he appoints your portion and your lot and your gifting and your privileges and your opportunities.

Churches get destroyed by selfish ambition. Pastors get destroyed by it. The competitiveness and vying for significance through ministry.

Your job? Just serve.

This isn’t just a problem in the church. It’s a problem at home. Pastors and seminary students face this. Any opportunity to serve can be twisted and ruined from being an opportunity to care for others to an opportunity to elevate self.

It’s the opposite of what Jesus did. Thank God Jesus gave up his personal rights to serve others. If Jesus had a self-serving mindset then you and I are lost in our sin. There’s no empty grave, no cross, no manger. He didn’t prioritize

Jesus, uses himself as the grounds for his instruction.

(45) “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

To the disciples: here’s the reason. Here’s the deal. Even your Lord didn’t come to be served. Of course, Jesus ate food prepared by others, and enjoyed the blessings of their ministry to him. But his point is that his purpose in coming, his focus while he as here wasn’t on gaining but on giving.

Ultimately his greatest service was in his dying. This is sacrificial language, substitutionary language.

A ransom—giving a price to buy someone out of prison who could never secure freedom on their own. His life exchanged for many. He came to spend his life giving not getting.

Isaiah 53:11—As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.

The death of Jesus is not some meaningless tragedy. And so here we have not only the coming reality of the cross, but the purpose behind it.

Friends, if you find a lack in your willingness to sacrifice for God’s glory and the good of others, then the solution is found in this very truth. Jesus gave his life for you and bought you. Now you belong no longer to yourself but to him who died and rose again on your behalf.

Your master is your servant. He served you, he owns you, and he commissions you into service.

Just consider what the Scriptures teach us elsewhere concerning this very truth:

John, the same John we are talking about right here, he got this lesson:

1 John 3:16—We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

John penned those words decades after this situation. But this day outside of Jericho John was learning about true love.

John watched Jesus and experienced the depth of his love. Philippians 2:8 Paul says that Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. It was utter humiliation for any man to be crucified, and yet to be completely undeserving and to be treated in such a way by the people you created is utterly humiliating.

Jesus redefines greatness in this act:

The reversal of all human ideas of greatness and rank was achieved when Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve. He voluntarily veiled his glory as the Son of Man (cf. Chs. 8:38; 13:26; 14:62) and assumed the form of a slave who performed his service unto death because this was the will of God (cf. Phil. 2:6–8).

Does this truth not suddenly reveal the relative weight of our petty selfishness? It seems so substantive and so meaningful. Too valuable to part with. Until you compare it to Jesus. Then it is shown for what it is.

Let the example of James and John not only serve as an example that brings about conviction but comfort my friends. Jesus has nothing but followers who follow him with mixed motives. Since coming to Christ you have yet to live for a day with nothing but pure selfless motives.

We sing, “It’s all about you, Jesus” but it’s not. That’s the desire of our heart. But we leave that place quickly.

Jesus only knows disciples with mixed-motives. And he still chose us and he still loves us. Doesn’t that make you want to serve him in the way he is worthy of being served?

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