Bible study on the sea

Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.” The bible often portrays the sea as a metaphor for chaos.
What are we to do in times in crisis? This brief bible study tries to answer that question.

The Great Reversal Part 8

Maundy Thursday

The Great Reversal

The Last Supper: Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial, The Garden of Gethsemane

Mark 14:17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”

Mark 14:19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”

Mark 14:20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Mana must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Mark 14:22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”

Mark 14:23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenanta between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

Mark 14:26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strikes the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

Mark 14:28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

Mark 14:29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

Mark 14:30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

Mark 14:31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Mark 14:32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Mark 14:35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,”a he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Mark 14:37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Mark 14:39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

Mark 14:41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Spring is a great time of year.

The crocuses are in bloom and the tulip leaves are pushing through the ground. The earth comes alive. Soon it will be time to enjoy the garden.

The thought of relaxing in a nice garden brings pleasant thoughts to most of us.

But in our reading we find Jesus far, far from relaxed, in the garden called Gethsemane.

We have just heard that:

Jesus has shared his last supper with his disciples. He has inaugurated a new covenant using bread and wine as symbols of his own body and blood.

He has predicted Peter’s denial.

And then they all, except for Judas, have retreated to the garden of Gethsemane to camp for the night.

Verses 32-33:

“And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.”

33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and He began to be filled with horror and deep distress.”

 

Jesus, like the Old Testament King David, is surrounded by body guards, if you will, in the midst of battle… but this time , it is with two rings of prayer support.

On the outer edge of the garden are the eight disciples, Inside his closest friends, Peter, John and James.

Jesus’ prayer reveals an inner struggle and sorrow at what lay ahead.

It is a struggle somewhat similar to the temptation in the wilderness.

‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”

Many times the Psalms had given Jesus words to express his prayer.

On this night, he partly quotes from Psalms 42 and 43:

‘O God my rock,’ I cry, ‘Why have you forsaken me? Why must I wander in darkness, oppressed by my enemies?’ Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound. They scoff, ‘Where is this God of yours?’

Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?

I will put my hope in God!”

These Psalms accurately express the soul’s deep longing for God…at the same time they end with an affirmation of faith in a God who vindicates.

A God who is with us, in the time of trial.

So it is at this crucial moment Jesus expresses His anguish and he shares it with his three best friends.

Verses 35-36:

“He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.

36 ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.

Please take this cup of suffering away from me.

Yet I want your will, not mine.”

 

In Jesus’ day standing with hands lifted was the usual posture for prayer, we can only guess the anguish of his soul as he fell with his face to the ground praying.

And Yet at the same time, he trusts God enough that he can call on him in the most intimate of ways, Abba, Father.

Is there another way?

The answer is no;

It is not possible for Jesus to be the Saviour, Lord, Messiah, God with us, and avoid drinking the cup of suffering.

This moment of greatest intimacy with his Abba Father, his desperate prayer to an all powerful God who could save him, is also the moment that clinches His fate. He must face the cross.

‘Yet I want your will, not mine.’

This sums up all of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Obedience to His Abba, Father, and that obedience was perfected on the Cross.

We should remember that Prayer and obedience are two sides of the same coin.

“Then He returned and found the disciples asleep. ‘Simon!’ He said to Peter. ‘Are you asleep?

Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?

38 Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.”

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

We know it only too well.

So Jesus rebukes the disciples for falling asleep on the job.

We can never trust in the strength of human nature.

“Then Jesus left them again and prayed, repeating his pleadings. 40 Again he returned to them and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open.

And they didn’t know what to say.”

Even the usually vocal Peter is lost for words.

Verses 41-42:

“When He returned to them the third time, He said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Enough!

The time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Up, let’s be going. See my betrayer is here!”

Like the three temptations in the wilderness the third visit to the sleeping disciples gives a sense of finality and completeness.

There is no turning back now.

‘Enough!’

The crisis of decision is over, Jesus has pushed through in prayer.

However just then, Judas the betrayer arrives with his own group.

We know the story:

Jesus will be abandoned by all of them, betrayed with a kiss, and taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Let me say this as we close:

There is another Garden that figures prominently in the Bible.

Of course it is the Garden of Eden.

It was the home of the first man, Adam.

The New Testament writers describe Jesus as the Second Adam.

Jesus: the second Adam, went into Garden of Gethsemane to restore what the first Adam had lost in the garden of Eden.

The first Adam sinned in the garden.

Jesus took this sin upon himself in the Gethsemane garden.

The garden of Eden had the tree of life.

Gethsemane brought Jesus to death on a tree.

Adam’s sin forfeited his right to the tree of life and brought death to all mankind. He who was crucified on the tree conquered death and by His resurrection restored the tree of life to all who believe.

The beautiful garden where Adam fell has long since disappeared but there is a wonderful reversal coming!

Jesus who suffered in our place, alone in Gethsemane, will restore ALL things!

The curse will be lifted, the lion will lay down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6-8), the dry lands will disappear, the earth will yield her increase abundantly (Amos 9:13), and Jesus will reign to bless His people in his forever kingdom in heaven. (Rev 21:3).

Rev. 22:1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

Rev. 22:3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him, forever.

 

Contrary to popular opinion, the Christian vision of the future is not “other worldly”. It is “new worldly”.

St. John’s description of the new garden in the book of Revelation, is God’s original earthy dream, brought to completion, because of Jesus.

The Great Reversal Part 7

Palm Sunday

The Great Reversal

Matt. 21:1 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

Matt. 21:4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,

Matt. 21:5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,

‘Look, your King is coming to you.

He is humble, riding on a donkey—

riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

Matt. 21:6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.

Matt. 21:8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the centre of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”

Matt. 21:10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

Matt. 21:11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matt. 21:12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Matt. 21:14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”

But the leaders were indignant.

16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’

17 Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.

I realized, this week that I had prepared at least 30 Palm Sunday sermons over the years.

Many of us have heard this story so many times, we approach it with a certain amount of ‘Been there, done that, got the Palm Sunday T-shirt.’

When I approach a familiar story like this, I have to ask myself the question: What is surprising about this passage?

It is obvious isn’t it, A king riding a donkey.

Just imagine if we went to the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, or Washington DC, or Buckingham Palace and saw the different leaders, riding into town in the most run down vehicle.

The newspapers would be all over this.

“Look the queen of England is riding in Pastor Paul’s car.”

A king on a donkey?

Not to mention another great surprise, the king is now, going into a church, and starts throwing things around, even, driving some people out.

What kind of loving, welcoming, inclusive saviour do we have here on Palm Sunday?

What is going on?

What we will discover this morning is not only the complete reversal of what a king should be like, sometimes he does shocking unlikely things… but more important, this Messiah, King Jesus is the fulfillment of amazing promises made hundreds of years before his arrival.

We find Jesus entering the city, not on a royal chariot, nor on a mighty warhorse; there are no slaves to serve Him. He arrives, instead, humbly, riding on the colt of a donkey.

The word of explanation from the Old Testament is the key.. in verses 4 and 5.

By the way, sometimes you hear people complain that the God of the old testament, is different from the God of the new testament.

You cannot have one without the other.

Listen to the words of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you.

He is righteous and victorious, yet He is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey’s colt…

His realm will stretch from sea to sea…

I believe what we are seeing here on Palm Sunday is a dramatic …prophetic… reenactment.

Just as A picture is worth a thousand words.

His action is speaking louder than a thousand words.

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, Matthew points out the connection between his action and the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.

So this word of explanation from the prophet Zechariah is key.

A humble King,-fulfilling prophecy.

Then Jesus goes straight way to the Temple courtyard.

It is a busy place, merchants have arrived with their wares, it is filled with livestock, doves, lambs, and the tables of the money changers .

Passover pilgrims have traveled from all over.

They have come to make a sacrifice and to worship God in remembrance of their liberation from Egypt many centuries before at the Passover.

We pick up the story at verse 12

Matt. 21:12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Jesus’ mission in Jerusalem was not to begin a holy war against the Romans as some, even His Disciples, may have wanted. They thought that their Messiah King would lead a revolution and get rid of the Heathen Romans from the Land.

But, It was Jesus’ own people, everyone, needed a revolution…a reversal in their hearts and minds.

How could Jesus make them see where they had gone wrong?

Well, the Prophet King, in Jeremiah-like fashion again enacts a judgement that would not easily be forgotten.

Like a shepherd He picks up some rope and drives out sheep and oxen.

What Jesus said, and did, by overturning the tables, was a ‘prophet of old’ rebuke of what the Temple had become.

It was just as provocative as His entrance into the city.

Both were a fulfillment of prophetic Scriptures.

Both were an authoritative, public demonstration of God’s Kingdom breaking through in a way that would grab people’s attention.

In this instance, Jesus quotes partly from Isaiah 56:6-7 “I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the Lord and serve Him and love His Name, who worship Him and do not desecrate the Sabbath…because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Isaiah’s vision spoke of a time when all the nations, the Gentiles of all people, would join themselves to the one true God … the outcasts, outsiders, the least, the last, and the lost would be gathered …with ….His chosen people.

What does that say to us today?

What is our mission?

Jesus also quotes partly from Jeremiah 7:9-11, the full quote is:

“ Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and worship Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here in my Temple and chant, ‘We are safe!’ – only to go right back to all those evils again?

Do you think this Temple, which honours my Name, is a den of thieves?”

The Temple had been so corrupted by the pursuit of economic gain that it had become an obstacle to true worship and prayer.

It was meant to be the very centre of Holy Spiritual life.

To Jesus it looked more like a place where robbers and anti-Roman thugs and revolutionaries hung out.

The Jewish laws demanded that people needed to exchange their various currencies, mostly Roman imperial money which had graven images of Caesar on them, into a special kind of “temple money” before they could buy the animals that were needed for the atonement sacrifice and Passover meal.

But the money changers were cheating the people, taking this Holy occasion as an opportunity to gouge the worshipers.

Doves or pigeons were what the poor people, especially women, would buy as they couldn’t afford grander sacrifices.

And that was the area of the worst corruption.

The whole scene was an offence to the piercing eyes of Jesus and totally dishonouring to God.

The Temple layout had several courtyards of increasing Holiness. The money changers set up shop in what was the outermost court of the Gentiles where anyone could enter. These outsiders, who believed in and worshiped the Hebrew God were considered to be unclean so they were not allowed into the inner court where the Chosen People of God worshipped.

How ironic!

The outsiders, were the ones who were thought to be unclean!

As mentioned earlier, The old testament prophets would sometimes dramatically enact a message of warning or prophesy in order to get their point across and make it memorable. You can imagine the fuss after Jesus turned over the tables.

What cleansing would Jesus have to do today were he to come to His church in North America?

What gods would He find us worshiping?

One greater than the temple had come and Jesus has enacted God’s righteous judgement on it and its shallow worship.

No amount of external piety practised in the temple could make up for not only cheating others but of cheating God out of true repentance, true worship, and a truly changed heart.

Money wasn’t the problem but the commerce of worship was… but that wasn’t the only problem, or even the main problem.

verse 14

Matt. 21:14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and Jesus healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were angry.

They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’”

At the time, anyone with a physical defect was not permitted in the temple with the rest of the community. They too, were the outsiders, the unclean, but Jesus healed them. Once healed they would report to the priests and then they would be allowed back into the community and into the main temple worship.

The people who had been rejected were now healed. The people who had been kept out were now welcomed in.

These healings of the blind and the lame were another prophetic enactment, but this time, of God’s mercy.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see…” Isaiah 61.

If the temple worship didn’t meet God’s approval neither did its leaders.

How ironic, that it is the blind and lame, considered outcasts, the little children, considered to some as a nuisance that recognize the Lord.

Earlier Jesus expressed thankfulness that truth was hidden from the wise and learned but had been revealed to babes. And so, Jesus is happy to hear the children praising in the way they had heard everyone do as he entered the city; ‘Hosanna to the son of David.’

What did the Temple leaders think of all this attention Jesus was getting? They were angry that Jesus was allowing this irreverent display within the temple.

Another irony; they didn’t seem to mind the money changers and all that corruption, commotion and disruption in the Temple as if that was not irreverent!

But Jesus, relying on the word of God, points out from the book of the Psalms 8:2, that God has ordained that children and even infants would praise him.

It is another fulfillment of Scripture.

So, For the observant, all this proof-texting of the Old Testament Scriptures was an admission and confirmation of Jesus’ Messiahship.

It summed up everything Jesus was doing, His mission, but the Temple leaders were indignant and jealous, which ultimately led to Jesus’ death.

Palm Sunday reminds us of this….

But it also reminds us that worship sometimes stirs things up.

Jesus saw the false worship and the sacrificial system as something that had it’s days numbered.

A greater sacrifice, once and for all, is just days away.

Within a week Jesus would be crucified.

We hold our breath for the greatest prophetic re-enactment a week today.

So…. we have seen that the truly surprising and almost shocking point of the story is that Jesus was and is the fulfilment of all that God was and is doing now.

If Jesus were to arrive today, what would he have to do to grab the church’s attention?

What would he say?

Is there a table, as it were, that would need to be overturned?

Now ask yourself ……the same the questions.

The Great Reversal Part 6

The Great Reversal

Part 6

Jesus Teaches on Serving

Matthew 20:17-28

Matt. 20:17 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 Mana 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 Romansa to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

20Then 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.”

Imagine three different situations:

Driving in a limousine:

House cleaning service:

Breakfast in bed:

Sounds good doesn’t it?

What were you thinking about?

If you are like me, you are probably… siting in the back of the limousine, not… driving it.

You imagine someone who has been hired to come and clean up your house, not one of the cleaners.

You are being served Breakfast in bed, not the other way round.

Most of us when we think about service, we think about someone serving us.

The reading from the gospel shows us Jesus’ Great Reversal in this whole issue of servanthood.

Our passage begins with Jesus foretelling his gruesome suffering and death on the cross.

When you think about it, it is one of the most ironic places in the bible when after Jesus foretells of his suffering, a caring parent asks for a place of prominence from Jesus for her boys.

But Jesus has to correct her, her two sons, his disciples… and us, about the nature of true servanthood.

Let’s take a closer look:

20 Then, (meaning right after Jesus tells them about the cross) 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.”

In other words, “Give them a place of prominence. Honour them, by serving my sons.”

As a parent I can relate to John and James’ mom. She is a good Jewish mother.

We want the best for our children.

However when we think of being honoured, we do not usually think about servanthood.

Some New Testament scholars maintain that she may have been Jesus’s aunt Salome, Mary’s sister, and the two sons would be cousins to Jesus so perhaps that’s why they wanted special treatment and ask to take the top seats in the Kingdom of God.

The request shows us what the two disciples had in mind when it came to power and leadership. They wanted to be first, they wanted to be more powerful than the other disciples. In fact by asking to be Jesus’s left and right hand men they might have even been imagining ruling over the other disciples. Achievement and ambition are difficult attitudes to weed out.

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!”

What is this bitter cup of suffering?

There are references to it in the Old Testament; Images used by prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah.

In Isaiah 51 the image of a cup containing the wrath of God was used to express what had happened to God’s people after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The prophet says, “Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem! You have drunk enough from the cup of the Lord’s fury. You have drunk the cup of terror, tipping out its last drops.”

This passage and many like it speak of what happens when the One Holy God is grieving over a very sinful and evil world. He steps in to give the wicked and arrogant the just reward for their evil deeds.

It’s as if God’s Holy anger is turned into a dark, potent wine and poured into a cup that rebellious people will be forced to drink, down to its last dregs. Quite a somber and scary picture!

But hold on, there is an amazing reversal coming.

It is the Son of God himself who is going to willingly drink the cup of God’s wrath in our place, for our sins and the sins of the whole world!

Jesus knew full well what is going to happen to him. The humiliation, desertion, the betrayals, the suffering on all levels.

I’m sure you have all experienced these things at one time or another yourselves, so you know at least partially how that feels.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, further on in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says His soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. He asks His Heavenly Father if it is at all possible, to let this cup of suffering be taken away from Him.

It’s the ‘Please Lord, no.’ prayer.

How difficult it is sometimes to pray, ‘Not my will but yours be done, Lord’….. as Jesus ultimately did.

You can’t help but be amazed by Jesus’ patience as he stares down death on a cross… while at the same time his followers are bickering about worldly ambition.

At this point the disciples don’t realize what it all really means for them. They are thinking power and prestige; a throne of their own. They wanted to be first.

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.”

James and John feel confident that they will be able to endure the cup of suffering… and indeed as Jesus has prophesied here so they do.

Later on in the bible we discover that James was martyred quite early on by Herod Agrippa in Jerusalem.

St. John, though spared a martyrs death, was banished to the isle of Patmos for the remainder of his long life.

But in the immediate future we know they will all run away and desert Jesus to drink the cup of suffering alone.

Jesus tells them that only His Heavenly Father knows who will sit beside Him.

It shows that not even Jesus (at this point) is privy to everything His Heavenly Father is doing, and that’s ok with Him.

It’s not His ‘right’ he says to make the choices the disciples are asking of Him. His Father has a plan. Jesus doesn’t know every detail but He trusts and humbly obeys His Heavenly Father in everything, even unto death. That in itself says everything.

The conversation is overheard by the other disciples.

Verse 24: “When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.”

The other disciples are angry, they are annoyed, not because they have a different idea of greatness, but probably they want the best places… themselves.

The two brothers just spoke up first.

The disciples are jockeying for position and power. They are behaving in a worldly way, all wanting to be first, all wanting to be important.

Had they forgotten the sermon on the Mount? Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the lowly…Jesus, as we know, reverses that whole concept of first and last.

Peter had been thinking about greatness in the Kingdom and Jesus answered, as we saw last week, in the Parable of the vineyard workers.

Verses 25-28:

“But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them.

26 But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. 28 For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.’”

So this is the crux of the matter. Jesus has tried several times to get His message of what the Kingdom of God is going to be like.

Jesus ministry has begun: The Kingdom is coming on earth as it is in Heaven;

The light is breaking through the darkness.

But it’s so different from the world.

Greatness in the eyes of the world is determined by status and power. Greatness in the eyes of God is determined by serving and sacrifice.

I find it interesting that of all the titles that Jesus uses about himself, the one he uses most often is the “son of man”.

In Daniel chapter 7 we find A majestic figure called the son of man, given absolute sovereignty and rule over everything. It says this:

Dan. 7:13 As my vision continued that night, I Daniel, saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

It is the portrait of a majestic mighty figure!

One you would expect to be served:

And yet Jesus, comes to serve others, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

He came to serve, to serve you and me.

He looks at you and discerns what your needs are, and he finds joy when he serves you and me.

It is such a reversal of what the world is like and yet ages ago, once again, the prophet Isaiah saw the truth.

Speaking of the suffering servant Isaiah writes…

“He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!….And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins.”

Jesus is going to Jerusalem. He knows what fate awaits Him there. He goes willingly. He is following the biblical model of Kingship, not the world’s model. The biblical model is the kind where the King is the servant, who gives up his very life as a ransom, a payment, for the world.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We are reminded of this every Sunday at Holy Communion.

verse 28 again:

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.”

Some translations have:

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Verse 28, just as……… I know it seems like a small detail. But what I think Jesus is trying to say is this:

“You think service is being served, no, no, no, true service is about laying down your life, for someone else. Just as I will do for you.”

In other words, Jesus has a very high standard for the way we are to live our life. I know I am preaching to the converted I am just reminding all of us.

I believe we are to be intentional in developing a lifestyle of service.

What does it mean to serve like this?

At home?

With my family?

With friends?

With outsiders even?

We can only live like this, when we are captivated, and filled and captivated once again, by the grace and love of Jesus.

So we need to pray.