Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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LENT 5 – March 18, 2018 – Mark 10:35-45 “GLORY IN GOD’S KINGDOM”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Mark 10.  We begin with prayer.


Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • In our text for this morning we are confronted with something that we view as quite untoward and unbecoming: raw and naked ambition within the church, within the kingdom of Christ, His glory! 
  • In Matthew’s rendering of this account, we learn that it was the mother of the sons of Zebedee that was ambitious for her sons to have the high privilege and honor of sitting on either side of Christ in His glory! [Matt. 20:20]
  • I suppose it is only natural for us to take our cue as to how to respond to this unpleasant ambition of James and John from the other ten disciples, and from Jesus’ declining to grant their request. But I’m not sure that we always get this correct!
  • Because of our own sinful tendencies, especially the selfishness that all too often uncritically permeates our ambitions, we tend to be leery and suspicious of ambition within the church. But as we see in our text:

I.  It Is Good To Seek Eminence And Glory In Christ’s Kingdom


A.  However, Not If We Are Seeking Grounds For Human Pride


Text:  “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.’”


B.  Likewise, It Is Not Good To Seek Eminence At The Expense Of Others, Or When It Stirs Up Resentment And Competition Within The Church


Text:  “When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.”


C.  Nor Ought We To Seek Eminence And Glory In Christ’s Kingdom Without First Counting The Cost


Text:  “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.’”


Statement:  Notice that Jesus does not immediately castigate James and John for this request.  It is not wrong, in and of itself, to seek eminence and glory within Christ’s kingdom.  Rather, it is a good thing to want to excel in goodness and service, and in self-sacrifice.  However, one needs to understand the dynamics of how such glory is attained – by following in Christ’s footsteps, and experiencing what He experienced for us, self-denial and a cross!


Application:  I kind of wonder what James and John thought, and what their mother thought when Jesus spoke of “drinking His cup” and being baptized with His baptism!  If they had any sense at all, any recognition of the cross and suffering in front of Jesus, they would surely have demurred and withdrawn their request.  Interestingly, naively, they did not withdraw their request but doubled down – claiming ability to do what Jesus was to do. 


So, if we are willing to excel according to the rules of Christ’s kingdom, then we too are encouraged to be ambitious for Christ and the kingdom of God!  My trouble is that I am overly suspicious of my sinful nature, knowing that all too often my “ambitiousness” is permeated with the kind of selfish and prideful dynamics of James and John. 


Transition:  So, if we tend toward ambitiousness, we must keep watch on ourselves, our selfishness and sin.  Nonetheless, we ought not fade away and become wallflowers – it is good to be zealous and ambitious for good things, especially the things of Christ kingdom and glory.  However, we must always remember that:


II.  Glory In Christ’s Kingdom Comes by Conforming To Christ


A.  This Means Not Exercising Authority Over Others Within The Church, The Way Authority Is Exercised Out In Unbelieving World


Text:  “Jesus 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.’”


B.  Rather, Greatness In The Kingdom Comes By Serving Others, Becoming Slave Of All


Text:  “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.”


Statement:  Unfortunately, when people hear that this how greatness is to be defined and earned and experienced within the Kingdom of Christ, they pretty much opt out.  So it is fairly apparent that most ambition within the church is the same kind of selfish, sinful ambition that is prevalent in the world, among the Gentiles. This truly is tragic and lamentable.


Application:  However, that does not mean that we should not consider this kind of ambitiousness for ourselves.  We should seek eminence and glory within Christ’s kingdom – for His sake, in gratitude to Him for giving His life as a ransom for us.  We should seek eminence and glory within Christ’s kingdom – for the sake of others, those through whom we are privileged to serve Jesus! 


In all of this, however, great care and caution must be taken not to allow evil and sinful dynamics in – whereby we seek the kind of eminence that belittles others and attempts to domineer. 


Conclusion:   Hopefully, we will consider ambition within the life of the church, especially our own ambition.  Hopefully we can move beyond a “mother’s” ambition for the greatness of her children, and beyond our own desires to be honored and served and to have the power and prerogative to order others around. 


And hopefully we can continue to learn the benefit and value of serving and slaving for others within the kingdom of God, knowing that Christ receives all of our serving as having been done to Him. 


Knowing these things puts a certain nobility into our service that is above and beyond anything else that we might be able to accomplish in this world. 


And having the right humility of heart and mind, it will not bother us at all where it has been appointed for us to sit in Christ’s glory, or where others will be seated.  It will all be to the honor, praise, and glory of our great Savior and Lord Jesus, the One Who ransomed us and gave us all blessings. 


To Him be all glory and honor, now and always, Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.