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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


Fourth Sunday In Lent
Series
A

Option #1: "Misunderstanding Among the Servants"
Matthew 20:17-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

"What’s in it for me?" The question reeks of those who seek power and glory. You’d think that those who had walked and talked with the Master for years would understand the nature of His Kingdom and what serving in it entails. But today’s text tells us about: A MISUNDERSTANDING AMONG THE SERVANTS.

 I. About Jesus’ Kingdom

    A. It is about blood, sweat and tears--John 15:14-16, Matt 16:21, 17:22, 23, 17:22-23; 26:2

    B. It is not about earthly glory--Ps 22:1-31; Isa 53:1-12; Mk 14:64ff

II. About when the glory comes: "We want you to do whatever we want--sit at your right and left in your Kingdom."

    A. Not in this life--Mk 14:36; Lk 12:50; John 18:36; Acts 12:2; Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; John 1:9

    B. But in the life which is to come, as a reward

        1. For faithful service in following Christ’s example--Col 3:1-4; Lk 22:23-25; John 10:15ff; John 13:12-17; Gal 3:13-14

        2. The glory that is promised--Prov 4:18; Dan 12:3; Matt 5:10-12, 10:41; Col 3:23-24; Rev 22:12

The Teacher’s Commentary reminds us: Instead of "exercising authority" as a ruler who demands and enforces conformity, the Christian leader is to abandon coercion. Jesus said firmly and plainly, "Not so with you." Force, manipulation, demand--all are ruled out in the way by which the servant leader exercises Christian authority. Outward force can produce conformity, but it can never produce that inner commitment which moves people to follow Jesus. How, then, does the servant lead? By serving! The secular ruler speaks the commands, but the spiritual leader demonstrates by his example the kingdom way of life into which he is called to lead others. No wonder Peter picked up this same theme and wrote as an elder to fellow elders, "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care...not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:2-3). By serving, the Christian leader demonstrates the greatness of the love of God, and gently motivates others to follow him. "Whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt 20:27-28).

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CHILDREN'S SERMON

Object: college catalog

For years now your relatives have been asking you: "What do you plan to do when you grow up?" (Ask three students for a response.) Your answer to that question will determine what you will study when you get to high achool. You might take the college prep course or the tech prep course. It’s up to you.

When you find what you want to do, one question you’ll be asking yourself is: "Can I make enough money at this to support a family?" That’s the good kind of question that asks: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

But that question is often asked the wrong way. The mother of James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, wanted to have her sons sit in powerful places in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus told them to think it over. There was a whole lot more than they thought in being part of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus was going to the cross to die for our sins. Anyone who followed Him would get rough treatment. Indeed, we know that only one of Jesus’ twelve disciples "died in bed." The rest died violently.

When you choose what you will study in high school, college or tech school, you know where that path will lead. Following Jesus often leads to the same kind of trouble that Jesus met while He was here with us.

But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus rose from the dead and went back to heaven. He is there waiting to reward those who have followed Him to the end.

So start thinking about what you will be doing in high school and where you will go after that. Think about what you want to do with your life. And look forward to seeing Jesus at the end, where He waits to welcome you and reward you for the things you did in serving Him here.

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Option #2: "Megaservice Master"
Matthew 20:17-28
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

 
The Point: Striving for greatness is appropriate ultimately only as concerns God's Kingdom.

The Problem: Our striving for greatness is oftentimes for non-salvific and non-eternal things; in the end, however, all of our striving is in vain. We can't do it without God!

The Promise: Though in authority over us, God descended to serve, suffer and die for us through His Son Jesus Christ and continues to serve us through the gift(s) of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, to equip us for service in His name.  
 
Notes
 
1. The seats to the left and right of Christ’s throne have already been prepared. The connection between this verse, vv20–21, and Mt 27:38 must at least be considered. Christ’s throne is that place where his atoning sacrifice occurs, and those on his left and right will not be rulers, or even apostles, but criminals... Jesus doesn’t say “You shouldn’t have asked,” but “You don’t understand.”  (Charles St-Onge)
 
2.euonumos {yoo-o'-noo-mos}, v21: of good name and of good omen; in the latter sense, used in taking auguries; but those omens were euphemistically called "euonumos," which in fact were regarded as unlucky, i.e., which came from the left, sinister omens, for which a good name was desired; left, on the left hand. (Blue Letter Bible)
 
3.diakonos {dee-ak'-on-os}, v26: one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister; the servant of a king; a deacon, one who by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use; a waiter, one who serves food and drink (Ibid)
 
4. lutron {loo'-tron}, v28: the price for redeeming, ransom; paid for slaves, captives; for the ransom of life; to liberate many from misery and the penalty of their sin. (Ibid)
 
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