Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Lent 5

Can you handle being in the thick of things?

Mark 10:41-45

March 22, 2015

It's human nature to crave attention. Most everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. For some, that craving is to live in the spotlight. If they can't be in the inner circles of the rich and famous, they want to be closely associated with those in power. They want the perks and privileges of being part of the elite inner circle. They want to be in the thick of things.

James and John were part of our Lord's inner circle. Along with Peter they had witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter and been present at the Transfiguration. Being close to Jesus wasn't enough for these two. They wanted more. They were seeking promises of positions of power and authority when Jesus became the new Caesar. You would think that they would have had a better understanding of Jesus and His mission. Obviously, they didn't get it.

When they asked Jesus for the positions of power on His right and left, Jesus responded with a question of His own. Are you ready for everything I'm about to undergo? "Ya' sure, you bet'ya, we're ready and able." Of course, Jesus refuses their request. They were still pretty clueless but the time would come when they would finally get it.

Here we pick up the story. There's always going to be a problem when our egos get into the way. The request of these two is nervy. It didn't help since it seemed these two had no tact. They made their request in front of the other 10, who were not amused. Because James and John tried to muscle in to places of power and prestige, the others were angry with them for this power play. Although Jesus had admonished them that they certainly didn't know what they were asking for, the others remained upset. Now the Lord has to calm the others. "Ok guys simmer down. Let me explain how all this is supposed to work."

Mark 10:41-45. Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Jesus could have come in power. He could have demanded to be served. He could have truly exercised His authority to lord over everyone. Instead, He chose the role of a servant. On the night He was betrayed our Lord washed the feet of His disciples. You'll remember the group had gathered to celebrate the Passover. Everything was in place, including the basin and towel for washing feet. As the disciples settled in, they looked at one another waiting to see who would take the job. While they all eye-balled one another with a "hey, not me" look, Jesus silently stood, wrapped the towel around His waist and began to wash their feet.

Much to their collective embarrassment, they allowed Him to complete the task so they could commence with the Passover feast. Why didn't any of them volunteer? Not only were they refusing to wash their fellows' feet but in the process they were also refusing to wash the feet of their Lord.

They had seen women wash the Lord's feet with their tears and anoint those feet with expensive oil. The women did this in loving service. Did the disciples think that washing the feet of Jesus was a "woman's work" and so beneath them? We don't know. What we do know is that not one of them offered to wash His feet.

Being a leader-servant isn't as easy as it sounds. Although many in leadership positions give lip service to "serving," their actions indicate otherwise. As the old saying explains simply to us, "power corrupts." Being in the thick of things usually goes to one's head. Human egos love the attention, the flattery, the bribes, the granting of favors and the sense of power that comes with the center of attention. Rather than serving in the sense our Lord intended, those in the spotlight condescend to help out the "little people."

Perhaps the desire to be in the thick of things has more to do with self-esteem than self-confidence. Self-esteem has devolved into being "all about me." This self-serving need to be recognized and catered to is not being a servant leader. As Christians we strive to encourage one another and especially our children to become self-confident. Confidence allows you to use the talents, skills and abilities God has given you to serve Him in your vocations.

Why isn't the church proclaiming the joy of Christian vocation? What you find is popes, bishops, and celebrity preachers in power suits all lording it over the faithful. It is as if the faithful Christians are second class citizens. Sadly, those who are supposed to be spiritual leaders love the spotlight. Where is their humility and sense of serving? Those who have been entrusted with the mysteries often squander them like pearls thrown to the swine. These so-called spiritual leaders are timid, often politically correct and self-serving. Where is the strength of character and uncompromising boldness of Christ and the apostles?

Even on the local level we face the challenges of being servant leaders.How often do church people do things begrudgingly out of guilt rather than in joy? Where is the sense of service in the church today? It's harder and harder to find people to volunteer. Everyone is "busy." Yet, all of these "busy" people find the time to do what they want to do. Would any of these "busy" people have found time to wash the feet of Jesus? In all honesty do you think you would have washed the feet of Jesus?

The good news is the disciples finally "got it." After our Lord's resurrection, things fell into place for them. They understood that truly Christ's kingdom is not of this world. James was the first of the apostles to be martyred. The others boldly preached the Gospel throughout the world. Thomas is said to have traveled as far as India. Tradition tells us all but John were eventually martyred for the faith.

We carry on in their footsteps. Not all of us are called to travel far from home or perform heroic feats. Our Lord tells us if you give a cup of cold water to one of the little ones, you have served Him. Jesus tells us, "As much as you have done this good work to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to Me." Think about that. You best serve the Lord by living the life of faith here and now.

How much does Jesus love you? He opened His arms to have them nailed to the cross. Last week we heard the Gospel in a nutshell from John 3:16. Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins. This was His ultimate service. He comes to us in His divine service in the word and sacrament to strengthen and encourage our servant leadership. By God's grace and with His help, we will also learn the joys of serving others not in the spotlight but the sidelight. The praise and glory belong to God. Thanks be to God for calling us to serve Him with gladness. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014