September 20, 2015 Text: Mark 9:30-37
Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope you enjoy this little poem. “I gave a little party this afternoon at three, Twas very small, three guests in all: I, myself and me: Myself ate up all the sandwiches, while I drank the tea; And it was I who ate the pie and passed the cake to me.”
Simple. Silly. Yet very descriptive of human nature in every generation and especially the present age. And here’s what we want to explore this morning . . .
“WHAT TO DO WITH I’, ‘MYSELF’, AND ‘ME’?”
It’s big business; you know…this obsession with self. Watch any reality show and you will see what I mean. I enjoy watching the show “House Hunters” but I am always amazed when couples are looking for a house how the language of “I” predominates. “I need a man cave.” “I want granite countertops and a tub.” “I will not live in a home unless ‘Fluffy” has room to run around.” Aren’t these spouses supposed to be in this together? I’d like to think the producers are encouraging this but I’m not sure that is the case.
We are trapped in the debacle of individualism. Ask anyone who has given his or her baser inclinations free reign, and you will see for yourself. It’s like the drug addict looking for another hit locked in a private hell of remorse and self-loathing – expressive individualism initially promises freedom, but ultimately delivers bondage.
It’s exciting to declare independence from the expression of others and cultural norms, but the result isn’t pretty. When your companions are comprised of me, myself, and I, you live in a very small world.
“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” (vs. 33-35)
The question Jesus poses is purely rhetorical. He knew what they were arguing about. He knew their sad condition and so did they because they remained silent. Oh, we know that scene. Confronted with our sin, we stand there silent because we have no answer. We knew it as a kid; we live it as an adult.
What a low moment for these men. Jesus had just told them he was going to be killed and in three days rise again. The Savior is going to bleed, suffer hell, and die for them and their concern is who is the best. It’s the battle of the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man in the arena of life. It’s always with us.
Disraeli once quipped, “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.” We are full of ourselves. Full of our plans and ideas. These words of an unknown author ring true: “’Be yourself!’ is about the worst advice you can give to some people.”
Jesus also lies some hard terms before us: last and servant. If we are going to amount to something in God’s scheme of things then we have to put ourselves last and be willing to serve in whatever capacity God places before us. The Lord drives home the point with this living illustration from our text:
“And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” (vs. 36-37)
The seemingly insignificant things and tasks are truly great in the eyes of our Lord. Embracing a child and his or her needs – sacrificing for the care of that child even if it means never living in a $500,000 home or getting what the flesh wants – embracing a child and everything that encompasses is truly great.
Look, brothers and sisters, God embraced and embraces us in Christ. Christ left the security and glory of Heaven to enter the world of I, myself, and me. He suffered hell and pain for our sins, earned our forgiveness and pardons those times we only live for the I, myself, and me. He embraces us in his Holy Word. Not too many moments ago we received the assurance of that forgiveness in the absolution spoken by the Pastor. Soon we will kneel together once again to be embraced in His love and forgiveness through the Holy Supper.
I’ve always loved Frank Sinatra’s song “I Did It My Way.” I’ve always touted my independence. You have the same problem, do you? What to do with “I, myself, and me”? The answer to that can only come to light in the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus for us. May the Holy Spirit lead us to deny self and be a servant to all.