“WHO IS NUMBER ONE?” — Mark 10:35-45 3-22-15

March 22, 2015 Text: Mark 10:35-45

Dear Friends in Christ,

A David Greason tells the story about an MG Midget that pulled alongside a Rolls-Royce at a traffic light. “Do you have a computer in your car?” the MG driver asked the Rolls driver. “Of course I do,” the Rolls driver haughtily replied. “Well, do you have a double bed in the back?” the MG driver wanted to know. Red faced with anger, the Rolls driver said nothing, sped away and that afternoon had a double bed installed in the back of his auto.
A week later, the Rolls-Royce driver passed the same MG, which was now parked on the side of the road. The Rolls driver noticed that the back window of the MG was fogged up and had steaming come out. The Rolls driver got out, banged on the back window of the MG until the driver stuck his head out. “I want you to know that I had a double bed installed,” bragged the Rolls driver. The MG driver was unimpressed. “You got me out of the shower to tell me that?”
A crazy story to expose a crazy emotion: The drive within the heart of every human to have the biggest and the best – to be number 1! You know, it even gets that way in the church. With our Gospel text comes a question . . .
Isn’t that a question we have heard a lot this week? Half the country filling out their NCAA tournament brackets, everyone who is anybody telling us who their number one is. We all long to have our team be numero uno. And if they can’t be we at least want the team we picked in our office pool.
The disciples James and John would have fit right in. Look at what is on their heart and mind in our text. “”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.’” (35b-37) And make no mistake, the other disciples felt the same way. They become indignant not because of the question but because they wanted to be the biggest and the best. They wanted to win the disciple office pool.
Being a disciple of Christ in this world has nothing to do with worldly position, or power, or things. Jesus says they do not know what they are asking. So he poses a question on drinking the cup and his baptism. Look at their arrogance, “We are able.” But Jesus then gets to the real answer. “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.” (v. 40)
Those connected to Christ in this world are going to suffer because of their connection. So Jesus forces the disciples and us to face two issues. 1. Why Jesus came into the world, and 2. The position of disciples as they live out their lives in this world.
Jesus didn’t come into this world to beat us into submission. He came into this world to love us to eternal life. Verse 45 of our text, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Why did Jesus do this? Sin. Life crippling, guilt impregnating, life disappointing, death bringing, God separating sin. This great God of ours, the One who breathed life into us came into this world to become a servant for the people gathered in this place. To grant us forgiveness and assurance of God’s love despite of the fact that this past week we have involved our thoughts and tongues and bodies in God –offending activities. For Christ’s sake we are forgiven. He served us to death. And glory be to His name, He continues to serve us through the promises of His Word and the Sacraments.
There at a place called Golgotha, with spikes in his hands and his feet, there He would hug us and love us back to life…to life everlasting. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” (Eph. 1:7)
We then have a calling to serve. To be people who not only understand that they have an eternal destiny – unlike our contemporaries who wander through this world walking all over each other – but to be people who also serve.
The disciples had this as well. The amazing part of this story to me is that it involves James and John. Two of the three who had glimpsed the glory of Jesus at the mountain. They saw greatness. They saw the true number one. But they just can’t contain that longing. So Jesus intervenes and these men would go on to great service in the Lord’s Kingdom. They found meaning in serving number one.
Do you? Or do you still want the biggest and the best and service to the Lord and His church gets pushed lower and lower? I know many of you in a loving way still make fun of my flip phone. But I am content with that. I don’t need the latest and greatest. Heck, we just got a flat screen TV at Christmas. I like it but it is not changing my life or pushing me to keep up with the neighbors. I just don’t live that way. I still have that human drive to be #1 in areas like sports, trivia etc. But I don’t want that to ever take away from my faith life. Everything put before Christ is idolatry. What about you?
So, let’s try this. Led by the Holy Spirit we serve because he first served us. To be great the Lord says is to be a servant. A Christian by the name of Carolyn Schultz wrote, “In the kingdom of God there are no score sheets. Menial tasks rank as high as glamorous ones. Things are measured by the spiritual way in which they are done.” Does that help you understand how desperately you are needed here? Does that help you understand the importance of everything you do as God’s people? Don’t demean who you are or your abilities. Because of Christ’s constant love for us everything we do for Him is worth doing.
Who is number one? Christ our Savior. Serve Him.