This is an on-going series that provide an “overflow” of information or application from my weekly preaching. A preacher cannot, nor should not, get everything into a sermon. These will be posts that give some direction and resources related to the sermon that will help people better understand and apply the passage.
What does true greatness in Christ’s kingdom look like? The great temptation—the great failing—of the church, has been, continues to be, and will forever be, to look at the world and follow its example. When it comes to our understanding of individual identity, ministry, or mission, it is far too easy to ape the world rather than be transformed by God. What works in the culture of the business, education, or government worlds is absorbed and applied to our own lives. The result is a weak, feeble, misdirected attempt at serving God. It’s a lifeless church that has all of the outward trappings of something real, but lacks the spiritual core that is evidence of the presence of God. In this regard, we are no different than the apostles in this passage. They faced all of these same pressures and temptations. And if we are to be successful in putting to death that mindset, we must heed Jesus’ words in these verses. Here, Jesus not only defines but illustrates what true greatness looks like in his kingdom.
Jesus say that the Gentiles exercise their lordship over the people. Their idea of greatness is rooted in displays of power. Yet, Jesus’ disciples should have a different definition of greatness. In Christ’s kingdom true greatness is found in humility, not power. And from that humility will also come service for others. All of this is rooted in Jesus’ own life of humble service. Jesus encourages his disciples to imitate him by promising them fellowship in his kingdom and prayers for their perseverance. Finally, Jesus looks forward to his death and resurrection, telling his disciples to join him in his mission. They are to prepare for a different atmosphere of ministry among the Gentiles. The support they enjoyed from Israel won’t be there anymore. Moreover, they are to be ready to suffer and be persecuted just as Jesus, their Savior and King was persecuted for their sake.
This week’s sermon will be uploaded and available for you to download or listen to here.
One of my illustrations came from the “Back to Jerusalem” mission movement from the Church in China. You can read more that mission here.
A big part of the application was thinking about gospel mission, not just to the nations (as important as that is!) but to our neighbors as well. We must be sharing Christ to those around us AND going or sending others to share Christ to the ends of the Earth. Some practical helps to think through both can be found here: evangelism, going and sending in missions.