Day Thirty-Nine with Mark: Mark 10:32-45

Like Wednesday to get a better picture of what Jesus is doing, let’s look at two stories together, Mark 10:32-34 and then verses 35-45:

32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

The Request of James and John
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then 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; 40 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.”

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jesus-washing-feetWhat we see here is two contrasting ideals, and Jesus trying to reconcile them.  We see Jesus teaching about what must happen, that He must suffer and die to save the people from their sins.  His purpose is to teach us to love, to care, to serve, to forgive and ultimate go to the cross (and the empty grave) for our sins.

Jesus is teaching them that.  But they aren’t getting it.

Then we see in the second portion James and John trying to wiggle their way into being the greatest in the kingdom.  And Jesus says, (paraphrasing) guys, you are missing the point here.

Your life, your greatness, it doesn’t come from power or prestige or titles.  It comes from serving.  The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.  That is the path He walks.  And that is path that He calls us to walk.

Serve. We are not like the world.  It is “not so among us.”  We’ve got to be different.  The only way that we change the world is to be different.  The only way that we can make a difference in the hardened hearts of this world is through service.  To love God and love our neighbor.

That’s what Jesus calls us to.  That’s the path to greatness for us a Christians.  Not in power.  But in service.

Today, and in this soon to be Advent season, may we live out that love of God.  May we serve.

Monday we’ll look at Mark 10:46-52.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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But Not So With You

There are certain phrases in the Bible that are always powerful to me.  One of my pastors as a child used to talk about the phrase “but” in the Bible.  Anytime you hear that word in a passage you know that something big is going to come next.

Today’s passage in Luke 22: 24-27 has one of those phrases that always jumps out to me.  Listen to what it says:

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

under-a-different-lightThe word “but” was a giveaway.  I love, love, love when Jesus says “But not so with you.”

I think no other phrase in the Bible sums up what the Christian life should look like more than that.  But not so with you.

Look what Jesus is doing there.  He is talking about how the world determines who is the greatest.  Those who are powerful are the greatest in the context of the world.  Those who are in charge.  Those who run things.  Those who have power.  They are the greatest.

But not so with you.  For us, for us a Christians, greatest does not come from power or position, or from any such thing like this.  Greatness comes from service.  From serving one another.  From laying down our lives for one another.  From putting each other first.

That’s what the Gospel-infused life should look like.  Different.  Different from the world.  A life driven by love. By grace.  By forgiveness.  Why?  Because we have been shown love.  Grace.  And forgiveness.

And we must show those same things to each other.  And to the world.

Today, greatness is in your hand. But not greatness the way that the world looks at it.  Greatness the way that God looks at it.  Jesus says this in John 15:13 – No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

So, today, we see what the world does.  That’s fine.  That’s great.  But not so with you.  Not so with me.  Not so with us.  We are the church.  We are the body of Christ.  We are called to live our His love and allow that love to change this world.  Today, let’s be obedient to that call. Let’s live that love out.

And let’s see what happens when we live that Gospel-infused life.  Let’s just see what God does with it!

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We all know, we all believe that we are broken vessels. We know that we are imperfect. We know that we make mistakes, that we fall, that we fail, that we all mess up.

Seriously, we know that. And it’s good for us to remember that. It’s good for us to know that we can’t do it all by ourselves. We need to learn to depend on God. To trust in His grace. To lean on His mercy.

To know that we are sinners, saved by grace.

But, that’s not all that we are. As weak as we are, we don’t stand by our strength. If we stand by our strength only, we will fall. But we don’t stand by our strength. We stand by God’s strength.

And when we stand by God’s strength, we stand with confidence. Listen to what it says today in 2 Corinthians 3: 4-6:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

confident-childWe have great, great confidence in Jesus. We aren’t sufficient (or able) in ourselves. But we are sufficient; we are able in Him. You can do it today. Through Him, you can do it today.

No matter what it is. No matter what you face. No matter what you are dealing with you. You can do it through Him.

Have confidence. Have that trust. Have that faith. Have that hope. You can do it through Him.

Yes, your sin is great. His strength is great.

Yes, your weakness is much. His strength is more.

Yes, you feel that you can’t do it through yourself. But know. You can do it through Him.

This fact is true. As great as your sin is, the blood of Christ and the power of the empty grave, they are greater.

Today, you can confidence. Not in yourself. But in Him. Through Him, you can do all things.

Today have confidence.

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Tuesday of Holy Week 2013

Today on this Tuesday of Holy Week, we draw a day closer to the cross. We also draw a day closer to the joy of Easter. And that, perhaps, is the thing that we can learn in Holy Week. We see that the pain (the cross) is followed by the hope (Easter and resurrection).

As Christians, we are not promised a pain-free experience. There is pain and hurt and suffering. There will be tears and loss. But, we are promised that these tears are not without a purpose and this hurt is not in vain.

And that God will use, even that, for something amazing.

Listen to what Jesus teaches on Tuesday of Holy Week, in John 12:23-26:

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

urlJesus tells them that the time for Him to be glorified has come. The moment when He would receive His greatest glory and honor was here. And, for us, to think of glory and honor, we think of a great award or some time of prize.

For Jesus, His greatest glory was the cross. And that doesn’t seem right. But, as He tells us, in the cross, many lives are changed, and freedom is gained for those that believe.

A grain of wheel falls, and it bear much fruit.

He goes to the to cross, and many lives are freed.

To love our lives means in this world we hate it, to gain eternal life. By the way “hate” doesn’t mean “hate” like we think of. It means to not see it as the primary thing. To know that there is something greater. And that is the truth. As great as our lives are, there is something greater.

God. To hate our live doesn’t mean that we “hate” it. It means that we choose Him first.

And, like the cross, at first that doesn’t seem right or like something we’d want to do. But, we find, that in laying down our lives, and placing His life first, we find what we are really looking for in our lives.

In laying it down, we find something greater. Today, may we know true greatness. May we find the great life that God has for us. May we lay down our lives, and take us His.

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The world has an image of what greatness looks like. In the world, greatness is about power. It is about might. It is about being in control and being about the tell others what to do, and how to do it.

Because after all, you’re the boss. You have the strength. You have the power to bend others to your will.

Might makes right, after all.

That’s what the world tell us. That’s what the culture tells us. To be great, means to be in control. To have others do what you want. To be a the top of the food chain.

As Christians, through, what does it mean for us to be great? What does greatness look like for us?

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I want to be great. I want to do the very best that I can do. I don’t want to waste a moment of this day that God has given me, and I want to be the absolute greatest that I can be today!

So, what does that look like? Listen to what Jesus says today in Matthew 20:25-28:

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

He says to be great in the kingdom, you must serve. You must place others ahead of yourself. You must place them before yourself.

In the world, leaders have power that they exercise over their followers. He said is not so among us. We must serve. We must humble ourselves. We must place them before ourselves.

That’s the example that He showed us. Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve. He is the very nature and power of God, He sat at God’s right hand, and yet humbled Himself and came to earth to serve us and set us free.

And because of that, God has glorified Him and made Him Lord of all.

So, for us, we find that if live only for our “stuff” or our greatness, we find that we aren’t really living. We feel empty and without purpose. We may have what we want, power, fame, success, but it feels empty.

When we live for others, we find life. We find greatness. We find our purpose.

Today, don’t live for yourself. Live for God. Live for others. Live to serve and glorify God.

And in doing that, you will find the greatness you were made for.

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What makes you great?  What defines greatness?  What leads to a great life?

What would you say to these things?

In our lives, very few of us want to be mediocre.  Most of us want to live a life that would be “great.”

Ok, true.  What does that mean, though?

Is a great life all the material possessions you would want?  Is is power?  Is is success?  Is is great wealth?  Is it respect?

Greatness may mean different things to each of us.

And, we haven’t even hit upon faith.  Which is the key issue.  As we talk about greatness, I wish the Bible had something to say about it.

Oh wait, it does.  Listen to what Jesus says today in Matthew 18:

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Greatness is not found in the stuff of this world.  Greatness is not found in wealth, or power, of possessions, or fame. That’s not the stuff of greatness.  Greatness, true life-giving greatness, true life changing greatness, it is found in this.

Turning from your sins and humbling coming to God.

That’s the thing with God. To become great, we must first become humble. To know, we must lay down our lives.  To be free, we must take on His yoke. To become great, we must become humble.

Like a little child.

A little child trusts.  Hopes. Believes.  Loves.  Cares.  laughs.  Lives.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s greatness. When was the last time you were at peace?  Of all things that the world’s “greatness” can offer, that’s the one thing it can never offer.  Peace.

When was the last time you felt that peace? When was the last time you felt that greatness?

Today, what type of greatness are you chasing? Today, may we chase the greatness of God.


I was thinking this morning about being different.  As I’ve been working on my first sermon for Asbury Church, I’ve been thinking about how I will introduce myself, my beliefs, my family, all these things that make me who I am.  And I’ve been thinking about how we are all different.  No two of us are the same, no two of us have the ideas about everything, the same passions, the same dreams, the same beliefs, even.

And, that’s ok. There’s something awesome about all us, with our ideas and own stuff gathering together around the table, worshiping our resurrected Lord.

Today, in one of the passages, Jesus talks about being different.  And He says, not only is it a good thing, but that we as Christians are called to be different.  He says in Matthew 20:

24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jesus tells us today, the world understands greatness in terms of power.  Who’s the boss?  Who is the one in control?  Who is right?  Who wins?

That’s how the world works.

It is not so among you.  We are called to be different.  We are not called to be like the world.  None of us are the boss – God is.  Those of us that lead, lead not by our own wisdom or knowledge, but by God’s wisdom, and God’s knowledge.

The greatest among us is not the smartest or strongest, it is the one that serves.

We are called to be different. We are called not be the same.  We are called to find life, not in our own life, but in His life.

We are called to love.  To love our God and love each other.

So, don’t feel bad about being different.  In fact, be proud!  Jesus wants us to live different, to love different, to be different.  It is not so among us.  We are called to serve  one another.  And serve Him.

And, in these acts of service, though simple, small things, we find that power of God. We find the life of God. We find a purpose of life and for faith.

Though love. Through service. Through being different.

Today, an amazing, abundant day, an amazing abundant life are our there for that taking.  Through Jesus Christ.

Today, let’s go live that life. Let’s find that life. Through His grace, mercy, and strength.  Let’s love and serve with the power of God. And let’s find what it is we seek.