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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
Mar 18, 2018 SERMON TEXT
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
The text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for the 5th Sunday in Lent, Mark 10:35-45. There we read these words: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you. And he said to them, What do you want me to do for you? And they said to him, Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory. 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? And they said to him, We are able. And Jesus said to them, The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN
In this Gospel Lesson, Jesus says, The Son of Man came NOT to be served, but to serve
Dear Christian friends, the Scriptures are full of talk about your service to God. Jesus not only said in Luke 12:35, Be dressed and ready for service, but He also said in Matthew 25:40, As you have done to the least of these brothers of Mine, you have done also to Me.
The apostle Paul explained in last weeks Epistle from Ephesians 2 that God created us in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Paul also speaks in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 about learning to serve the living and true God.
The first commandment can be faithfully worded this way: You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve (Matthew 4:10). Add to this the voice of the prophets, who bellow repeatedly from the pages of the Old Testament, Serve the Lord! (Deuteronomy 10:12, Joshua 24:14, 2 Chronicles 30:8, 35:3, Psalm 2:11).
In the midst of all this talk in the Scriptures about serving God, Jesus says in todays Gospel, I did NOT come to be served. Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
When Jesus says, The Son of Man came NOT to be served, He is not overthrowing or rejecting everything else that God has said and written. When He says He came NOT to be served, Jesus does not mean for you to think that you have no active role in the life of Christ or His Church.
The Scriptures are clear and Jesus is the faithful preacher of the Scriptures: You SHALL worship the Lord your God and serve Him only (Matthew 4:10). You MUST walk in the good works God prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10) and wrote into the Ten Commandments.
The Scriptures not only require service to God, but they also warn about disastrous consequences fory our faith and eternal life if you should refuse such service:
Be doers of the Word, and NOT hearers only, says the Lord, thus deceiving yourselves (James 1:22). What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14, 17).
Jesus said, Everyone who hears these words of mine and does NOT do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:26-27).
When Jesus says in todays Gospel, The Son of Man came NOT to be served, He is placing your service to God into the perspective of Gods service to you. In what way shall we compare your service to God with Gods service to you? What analogies can even come close?
If your service to God is a raindrop, then Gods service to you is greater than all the oceans of the world combined into one. If your service to God is an ounce of gold, then Gods service to you is all the worlds treasuries of gold piled into one unmeasurable trove.
If your service to God is a single ray of light, then Gods service to you is the sun and all stars shining together. If your service to God is a single fencepost driven into the ground, then Gods service to you is the very cornerstone and foundation of the entire creation, which He laid in place for you while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7)
So great, so vast, so all-encompassing is Gods service to you thatwhen compared to the way you must serve HimJesus can say in todays Gospel, The Son of Man came NOT to be served.
And that is not all Jesus says in todays Gospel. After He said, The Son of Man came NOT to be served, but to serve, Jesus went on to describe with beauty and simplicity the manner in which He serves:
Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
To give His life as a ransom for many: With those few Words, Jesus encompasses the limitless ocean of His vast love for you. With these Words, Jesus opens for you the golden treasury of His mercy and grace.
In the Words a ransom for many the Sun of Righteousness rises for you with healing in its wings (Malachi 4:2). Your Lord Jesus wants you to know that He is your ransom, that is, the purchase price given for your freedomfreedom from sin, freedom from death, and freedom from the power of the devil.
Thus God has written: Through [Jesus], forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin (Acts 13:39). the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Christ] Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).
These are the Words of Jesus Christ, your God and your Savior: The Son of Man came NOT to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom from many.
Jesus did NOT speak these Words to you to set aside or overthrow your service to God. Jesus did NOT say these things in order to indulge your laziness or to exercise your futility.
Jesus did speak these Words for your confidence and your peace, that you, being delivered from the hand of your enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all your days (Luke 1:74-75).
So. Go. Do your service to God and do it wholeheartedly. Hold nothing in reserve. Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only (Matthew 4:10). because the Lord your God has commanded it. Even more, He has tenderly and mercifully created you in Christ Jesus for good works that you should walk in them(Ephesians 2:10).
Man, woman, boy or girl: none of you should defy or deny what God has created you to be.
As you proceed in your service to God, do it with joy. Move forward in the knowledge that your Lord Jesus has so fully, so completely worked for you, that there is absolutely nothing you can do to mess things up.
In the forgiveness of your sins; in patient, daily guidance through life; in constant intercession before the Father; in any and every other gift, Jesus your Lords service to you is infinitely greater than your service to Him. His service is so much greater than your service to Him that He can even say, The Son of Man came NOT to be served, but to serve.
And He will indeed serve you, both now and forevermore.
Because Christ is Risen.
|Christ Is Risen|
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