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

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series B

Option #1: "The Greatest in God's Kingdom"
Mark 9:30-37
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

I. They forget about their own glory--v35

Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament: They had been disputing (verse 34) not about the coming death of the Master but about the relative rank of each of them in the political kingdom which they were expecting him to establish.

II. They are willing to be in last place--Lk 22:24-30; Matt 18:2-4, text, vv36-37

Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament:Mark 9:35: He sat down and called the twelve (kathisas epho˘˘ne˘˘sen tous do˘˘deka). Deliberate action of Jesus to handle this delicate situation. Jesus gives them the rule of greatness: "If any man would be first (pro˘˘tos), he shall be last (eschatos) of all, and servant (diakonos) of all." Matthew 18:2 says that he called a little child, one there in the house, perhaps Peter’s child. Luke 9:47 notes that he "set him by his side." Then Jesus, taking him in his arms (enagkalisamenos, aorist middle participle, late Greek word from agkale˘˘ as in Luke 2:28), spoke again to the disciples.

Albert Barnes: They expected he would reign as other kings did. They supposed he would have his great officers of state, as other monarchs had, and they were ambitiously inquiring who should hold the highest offices. Jesus told them that they were wrong in their views and expectations. No such things would take place.

And become as little children--Mark 9:35 says that Jesus, before he placed the little child in the midst of them, told them that "if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all." That is, he shall be the most distinguished Christian who is the most humble and who is willing to be esteemed least and last of all.

III. They follow Christ’s example of service--text, v31b, Mark 10:35-45

Albert Barnes re: a parallel verse, Mark 10:45: To give his life a ransom for many--the word "ransom" means literally a price paid for the redemption of captives. In war, when prisoners are taken by an enemy, the money demanded for their release is called a ransom; that is, it is the means by which they are set at liberty. So anything that releases anyone from a state of punishment, or suffering, or sin, is called a ransom. People are by nature captives to sin. They are sold under it. They are under condemnation, Eph 2:3; Rom 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 5:19. They are under a curse, Gal 3:10. They are in love with sin. They would have perished unless there had been some way by which they could he rescued. This was done by the death of Jesus--by giving his life a ransom. The meaning is that he died in the place of sinners and that God was willing to accept the pains of his death in the place of the eternal suffering of the redeemed.

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Visual aid: a crown, such as you might find at Burger King, or a picture of a crown; also a pair of work gloves.

I’ve been thinking about you off and on all week. I was thinking about how much you have listen to older people--your parents, your teachers, your coaches, even big brothers and big sisters.

Well, I want you to know that Jesus says that today it’s your turn! Jesus had a problem with the disciples. They all wanted to be the leader and there really can be only one leader. So they were arguing while walking on the road about which of them was the greatest and who would have a lot of power in the kind of kingdom they thought Jesus was going to have. They thought Jesus was going to a very powerful earthly king and that they would be bigshots in His kingdom.

But that’s not the kind of kingdom Jesus came here to bring. His kingdom is one of love and of serving one another in love. Jesus said: "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

The disciples thought it would be just great to be the one who bosses other people around, the person that people had to bow down to.

But Jesus said something like this: "There will be serving all right, but you will be doing the serving. You will be on the giving end, not the receiving end." He said: ... whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and 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."

There is nothing greater than to be great in Jesus’ eyes. That means you have to take off your crown and put these on (work gloves) and be a servant to anyone who needs you. That’s what Jesus did. He gave His life to buy us back from sin. That’s what He wants you and me to do. If you want to be great, you must be a servant, a helper, someone who is just like Jesus.

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Option #2: "Wisdom Is As Wisdom Does/Wisdom Does As Wisdom Is"
James 3:16-4:6
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
Point: It is better to receive--then to give.
Problem: Envy, selfish ambition, false humility: piety-playing games and self-deprecation
Promise: Because God opposed Jesus, the bearer of all of our sins, making Him to suffer and die for us, by the Holy Spirit He gives us more grace to believe in Him and to reflect that belief in what we think, say, and do.
1. Wisdom is "not just acquired information but practical insight with spiritual implications." (Concordia Self-Study Commentary Bible)
2. If we become friends with the world we become adulterers toward God. (Quentin Wesselschmidt)
3. God gives us whatever we ask, so if you do not receive it is either because you do not ask him or you ask for your personal gain. (Chris Haslam)
4. James doesn't actually say what heavenly wisdom is but, rather, he describes its results. (Bryan Findlayson)


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