Saint Francis of Assisi one day said to several of his followers, "Let us go to the village over the way and preach." As they went they met a humble traveler who was greatly burdened. But Francis was in no hurry and listened carefully to his story of woe. When they reached the village, Francis talked with the shopkeepers, spent time with the farmers at their fruit and vegetable stalls, and played with the children in the streets. On the way back they met a farmer with a load of hay, and Frances spent time with him. The morning gone, the group reached the monastery from where they had set out in the early morning. One of the followers, who was greatly disappointed, said to Francis, "Brother Francis, you said you were going to preach. The morning is spent and no sermon has been given."
Francis replied calmly, "But I have been preaching all the way."
Many Christians are like that follower. They hear the sermon or see the flashy religious act, but completely miss the importance of living in the Spirit like Jesus. We need to remember that Christ's ministry involves more than His teaching, healing and sacrifice in the distant past. Let's ask ourselves: Am I aware of how Jesus ministers in my life every day?
Why do I point that out? There is a tendency to separate what happened back when Jesus was on this earth from what is happening in our life now. So today I would like us to notice how Jesus' giving up His life for us continues today far beyond the cross.
To do that, let's open our Bibles to Mark. Most of us are familiar with the story of how the disciples, James and John, would sneak one over on the other disciples and asked Jesus when He came in His glory to set aside a special place, one on the right hand and the other on the left hand. Other gospel passages even indicate that they got their mother in the act of this request. What I like about this story is that when the ten heard about it, they were greatly displeased with James and John. And then Jesus teaches a lesson, a moral to this story. Mark 10:35-45 (NKJV), Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask."
And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory."
But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
They said to Him, "We are able."
So Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared."
And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all."
Let's pause there. What did James and John need to learn? Jesus showed them that glory is more than power and position. Greatness is not a one-time accomplishment, or a status or position; it's a whole way of living. In fact, it's an attitude of service. And that's what Jesus has. Notice verse 45.
Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom of many." Later, when Jesus finally prayed before His death, "Father, glorify your Son, that your Son may be glorified in you," (John 17:1), what was He talking about? He wasn't talking about power and position. I believe He was talking about the cross. Jesus' glory was to die for lost sinners. It is so opposite from what the world thinks. To the world, glory means having power, riches, and status being "above" others. But to the King of the Universe, glory has to do with sharing love and beauty. It is healing and serving those in need with humility and with respect.
Let me illustrate what I am talking about by quoting from Steps to Christ. I refer you to the back page of the bulletin announcements.
Steps to Christ, p. 52, "Some seem to feel that they must be on probation, and must prove to the Lord that they are reformed, before they can claim His blessing. But they may claim the blessing of God even now. They must have His grace, the Spirit of Christ, to help their infirmities, or they cannot resist evil. Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are, sinful, helpless, dependent. We may come with all our weakness, our folly, our sinfulness, and fall at His feet in penitence. It is His glory to encircle us in the arms of His love and to bind up our wounds, to cleanse us from all impurity."
I especially love that last sentence, "It is His glory to encircle us in the arms of His love and to bind up our wounds, to cleanse us from all impurity."
Isn't that good news? Jesus' giving up His life is not just an event long ago. He wants to heal, and cleanse us and transform even now. Jesus' glory was to humble himself in love and to die for you and for me. Today it is Jesus' glory to continue the same giving attitude of the cross, to continue His loving acceptance, His forgiveness and His healing of our lives.
God's Word offers to us this very moment in Jesus a sacrificial God, a living God, a friendly, caring and loving God, One who is humble enough to listen to our prayers and even spend time with us. Though He is the Ruler of the Universe, He is that humble. Jesus is ready on a moment's notice to hear and respond to our needs for forgiveness, for love, for cleansing. Do you need God's healing love today? Do you want God's healing love today? Will you let Jesus make a difference in your life? Let's say Yes to Jesus by sharing in the emblems of Jesus' life, death and suffering for us.
Hymn of Praise: #619, Lead On, O King Eternal Scripture: Mark 10:42-45 Hymn of Response: #338, Redeemed!
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last updated 23/09/06 by Bob Beckett.