Church Service 2021-10-17 I Am the Greatest!

October 11, 2021

  • Ego in action
  • To sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the kingdom were positions of great power.
  • They obviously thought that Jesus was going to usher in the apocalyptic expectations that Israel would unseat the powers and be restored to their NationState Power Status.
  • "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you," James and John said to Jesus (v. 35b). More than 2,000 years later, this audacious request still sounds utterly presumptuous, especially in the ears of the other 10 apostles. Yet, there are valid reasons why these two disciples would voice such a bold petition.
  • James and John belonged to a singular group -- they were among the first four disciples that Jesus called, and they remained with him during the rest of his ministry. 
  • Moreover, when he ascended a mountain and was transfigured, James and John, along with Peter, accompanied Jesus (9:2-8). Later on, it will be these same three disciples who remain close to him in the Garden of Gethsemane as he prays (14:33).
  • Certainly, Simon (Peter) and Andrew held a similarly unique place, too. Like James and John, they were among the first four disciples. In fact, Simon and Andrew were the first two disciples who Jesus singled out and called by name. 
  • Much later, at the end of Jesus' ministry, both of them, along with the sons of Zebedee, approach Jesus privately, and ask him about his prediction of the temple's destruction (13:1-4). Even so, despite their familial bond, a shared occupation and synchronous call to follow Jesus, Peter and Andrew are never linked as tightly as James and John, neither in Mark, nor the other gospels, for that matter. Two pairs of brothers, but one pair obviously displays -- at least from Mark's point of view -- a more robust relationship with a mutual pursuit.
  • You have no idea what you are asking.  
  • Are you willing to drink from my cup and be baptized in my baptism?  (Total immersion)
  • “We can they answered!”  They had no idea!  
  • Why?  Their ambition made them deaf from what Jesus had been teaching them.

Jesus gives them the truth.  You will drink from my cup and be baptized like him.  However, I cannot grant you your desired positions of power.

I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a letter to Reinhold Niebuhr, cited by Todd Temple and Kim Twitchell, People Who Shaped the Church: 20th Century (Tyndale, 2000), 18.

  • When the 10 heard what James and John had done they became very angry at James and John.  
  • Why?  They were undercutting the rest?  James and John did what they had thought of doing but, did not!
  • We can see how ego centered ambition can destroy trust among those who worked so closely together.

A lot of times people associate leadership with being the person who is in charge, or somebody who’s a good manager. And really, leadership is more synonymous with the word “influence.” Leadership is a skill, that’s a learned or acquired ability. It’s not something you’re born with. But it’s the ability to be able to inspire and influence people to action, the ability to get the fire going within somebody, where I want to do it now. So leadership is about inspiring and influencing people to action.

The servant part — it’s not about being a slave. Being a servant leader is not about doing what people want. It’s about doing what people need, and there is a huge difference. …

So what servant leaders are about [is] the business of identifying and meeting people’s legitimate needs, seeking their greatest good so that they can grow. So the test of servant leadership is, do people leave you better than they found you? Do you leave things better than you found them? So am I going to grow as a result of being under your leadership?

—Jim Hunter, interviewed by Tami Simon, “Jim Hunter on Servant Leadership,”

Retrieved April 22, 2021.

  • Then Jesus compares them to Gentile rulers who lord themselves over others.  Dems fighting words.
  • Jesus once again gives them a lesson on greatness.
  • Not so with you!
  • First is the one who is a servant to all.
  • First is the one who chooses to be a slave to all.
  • Our greatness is not defined in God’s realm by how much power we can wield over others.  
  • In God’s eyes our power in how we serve, give ourselves away.  
  • Our legacy is defined by what we have done for others and how we make this world a better place.

Call to Celebration

Divine Power, fill us with your Holy Spirit.

We avail ourselves to be used by you.

Wondrous Love, open unto us the gift of service.

We avail ourselves to be used by you. 

Still-Speak God, open our hearts to the myriad of ways you show up in this community.

We avail ourselves to be used by you

Great Spirit, strip us of the desire to see singularly.

We avail ourselves to be used by you.

Holy One, you have lived openly before us. You have taught us that authentic power is established through what we give away.

May we become the wholeness of God’s imagination.



“O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

(Excerpt from Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi)

Full Service Service October 17th 

Scripture Lesson 

Mark 10:35-45 NIV

The Request of James and John

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must 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 as a ransom for many.”

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