In Mark ten, James and John came up to Jesus and asked to sit in a high ranking position in heaven. The other ten disciples were indignant at James and John for asking such a thing. The word used ‘indignant’ shows that they were angry because they thought them two were unworthy of that position. I am sure they were thinking about when Jesus said, “ask, seek, knock.” Jealousy was probably in their hearts thinking that they missed out of a great privilege because they did not ask first. Jesus calls them all to his side and reminds them about the Gentiles who think that they should be masters over other people (v. 42). In contrast, Jesus says “it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (v. 43 nasb). A servant is one who voluntarily takes an inferior position in order to meet the needs of others. Jesus goes on to say that”whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all (v. 45 nasb). All of the disciples were seeking greatness, but to get it they must be willing to be a slave to everyone. The proper interpretation of slave here is to be a “bondservant”. A bondservant is one who willingly sells himself in to slavery to another. A slave is forced to do work for his master, whereas a bondservant has willingly chosen to serve to his master.
As our example, Jesus did not come to be waited upon, but to serve. He was willing to perform certain duties which were humble in nature (i.e. wash disciples feet). Also, He came to be a “ransom for many”. A “ransom” is a means of release or the price from slavery. Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross.
Before we were saved, we were a slave to sin. Sin was our master, as we continually followed its control. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are a new creation, who is free from the slavery of sin, and he is now alive in Christ (Rom 6; 2 Cor 5:17). We are no longer a slave, but we should take the humble position as a bondservant who willingly chooses to follow his new master; Jesus Christ. As a bondservant, we should be looking for opportunities to serve others, so through that service the unsaved will see Jesus Christ in us.
Are you serving others?
Mark 10:45 “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 announced that he is the Good Shepherd. He describes how the Good Shepherd would die for the sheep because of the love He has for them, in contrast to the hired hand that would flee because he does not care about the sheep. “The hired man looks like a shepherd and sometimes even acts like a shepherd. But in times of danger, he cannot be relied upon. There is no protection or security for God’s flock apart from the protective presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who loves the sheep.” 1 Jesus is the Good Shepherd that loves and cares for us. He came so people could have life more abundantly, by giving them a hope and a future because of the eternal life that can only come through Him.
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 190.
Paul begins his argument by saying that all of mankind is condemned and that God’s righteousness is needed (1:18–3:20). God’s wrath is being shown to man because they continually reject him (1:18), and the wrath that is coming is definitely deserved (1:19–32). Man even knows within his heart that there is a God, but he still rejects him. The creation is even crying out to mankind, “Look, there is a God” (1:20–21). Unfortunately, man still rejects God. All of mankind is in opposition against God, and man is without an excuse. Since God has revealed himself in the creation, man cannot defend himself (1:20).
Paul continues to argue that all Gentiles are condemned (1:18–32), to which the Jewish audience was probably saying, “Amen.” Then Paul continues to show how the Jews are in just as bad of shape as the Gentiles (2:1–3:8). The Jews even had many advantages compared to the Gentiles, but this just helps show the wickedness of man’s heart. It is interesting how Paul shows that the Gentiles do not have the Law, but they do things of the Law, because the Law is written on their hearts (2:14). The Jews, who had the Law, and the Gentiles, who only knew the Law in their hearts, are both condemned because righteousness does not come from the Law, but from God.
Now that Jews and Gentiles have been shown that they are in rebellion against God, Paul shows that man is helpless unless God intervenes. Paul continues his argument by saying that there is absolutely no one who is righteous or even seeks after God (3:9–18). Man’s only hope without God is to keep the Law (3:19a). Unfortunately, no one can keep the Law fully. The only thing that the Law does is condemn mankind (19b). Without a doubt, the Law can not justify anyone (1:20). This leaves man totally helpless to save himself. He is in desperate need of God’s righteousness. If God does not do any thing to reach out to man, then man will be lost forever.
It is amazing to think that the one man who lived the perfect life on this earth was rejected by everyone. He was least worthy of the abuse that he received but suffered more than any of us. He was whipped to the point of massive bleeding and experienced the ripping of the flesh. It was done to the point that internals, like muscles and maybe even organs could have been seen. The scourging alone would have been bad enough, but there was also ridicule and taunting from the crowds and soldiers. He was spit upon, punched, and stripped of his clothing. Placed upon his head was a thorny crown and a robe was placed on his flesh torn back, then soldiers bowed before him mockingly yelling, “Hail, King of the Jews!” By this point, Jesus would have been totally without enough strength to yet alone walk but they made him carry his own cross to Calvary. He was betrayed and abandoned by his friends on this earth. Through all of this, he did not defend himself or send for help, even though he had he had the authority to and the power to get help or to stop them. He did not stop them because he was willing to do the will of His Father.
Once he made it to the cross, this is where the long-term torture started. He had nails drove through his hands and feet into the cross, and then the cross was lifted up and dropped into a hole. As his arms were spread out on the cross, it would make it hard to breathe. To breathe, he would have to stand up which would put extreme pain through the nails in his feet and all of the torn muscles in the back would have to be used. The average person on the cross would slowly and painfully die from exhaustion and suffocation.
The sad thing is the fact that these “religious people” seen with their own eyes God in the flesh, but instead of worshiping him they wanted to torture and kill him. As we approach the Christmas season, let us not forget the reason for our celebration. Our Immanuel (with us is God) came to redeem lost man-kind. He experienced the cruelest and most humiliating death. He was buried (proof of the death), and he was raised from the grave on the third day. This is a historical fact with multiple witnesses that cannot be denied. Today, Jesus is no longer the “little babe in the straw”, but is now sitting on the right hand of God. He is there with glory interceding for the saints and performing his role as the Head of the Church, until his soon return. (Romans 8:34, Colossians 1:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:15)
“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He (Jesus), having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.”(Hebrews 10:11-13 nasb)
Yesterday, we had another youth worship. Probably hundreds of teens were invited by me or by other teens and youth pastors, but I never know how many will come until seven o clock that Saturday..The crowds had been low, but I was praying for a good turn out because we had put together a skit to perform. Thankfully, this was one of our best turnouts in spite of the road construction that makes it nearly impossible to get to the church. We did the famous wordless skit done to Lifehouse’s song “Everything”. It depicts a girl out of fellowship with Jesus. She is chasing the things of this world such as: boyfriends, money, alcohol, and the desire to be thin. Once she is at the end of her rope, she is tempted to take her own life. A dark caped character comes creeping in (played by me). I hand her a knife and convince her to cut herself. Then I wrestle her some and put a gun in her hand and lift it to her head. The whole time Jesus is on stage right waving his arms at her, trying to get her attention. She now has the gun to her head as the music builds. When the music blasts “Cause you’re all I want, You’re all I need, You’re everything, everything”, she throws down the gun and tries to run to Jesus. It gets pretty violent as each character that represented the boyfriend, money, alcohol, anorexia, and demon, try to pull her away from Jesus. This fight goes on for a while until she drops to her knees, that is when Jesus steps in and becomes her mighty fortress not allowing those influences to reach her any more. When done right, this is a very powerful skit. A half hour before people began showing up, we practiced it one more time for the video camera. As we watched the video, we seen how we needed to use the minimal lights that we had to our advantage to get our point across. So we used what lights we had to emphasis what was going on. A strobe light was used at the peak when the violent fight began as she tried to get to Jesus. A lot of light came on when Jesus stepped in to protect her and then a flash from my eight hundred watt construction lights blasted when Jesus threw off all the characters that represented the ways of this world. I felt that the skit went really well, but you not sure until you see it on video. After we got home late last night, we plugged in the camera to see if our contrast of light and dark made the difference that we were looking for. I believe it worked really well and it was very moving to watch. I spoke on Psalm 27. It is a beautiful psalm that shows that a relationship with God can bring a confidence that chase’s away any fear. This psalm shows God as a light that drives the anxieties and dangers of the darkness. The one thing that David seeks after is “to see the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple (v. 4)” David figured out that God is “all I want, He is all I need, He is everything, everything”. I wanted to show the group there that they could have that same confidence that David had, but they must have a relationship with Jesus. So I used John eight, when Jesus said “I am the light of the world”. “In the court of the women in the Temple were four golden candelabra that were lit in the evening during the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was said that there were not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light (Sukkah 5.2)”. These candelabras represented the Shekinah Glory, so while the memories of the Feast of the Tabernacles was still fresh in the Jews minds. Jesus walks into the temple and makes the statement in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (nasb) It is an awesome picture showing the deity of Christ. Jesus comes into this dark world as the “light” that reveals our sin and brings salvation to those who are walking in darkness. My prayer was that everyone that left that place seen Jesus and that they were able to say that “You’re all I want, You’re all I need, You’re everything, everything”.
In Hosea 6:6, God made a strong statement about his mercy, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Really what he was saying here is that he wants us to show kindness toward man, especially to the lowly and needy, which especially need it. Throughout Deuteronomy, it speaks of the love that we should have with God. In the gospels, the Pharisees thought that closeness with God came by keeping ceremonial traditions and their list of rules, but this is not what God wanted. God desires love toward one another. The greatest or chief command is to love God with all our heart and the second greatest is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37) If one is truly following God, he would love his brothers and not cause them harm. (See Exodus 20, 1 John 3:10–11) Jesus took “love your neighbor” to a new level. He spoke of it as a radical love. He said that we should love the ones who persecute and abuse you for no reason. (Matt 5:4)
In Matthew nine, Jesus gets off a boat and does many miracles. He heals a paralytic, forgives his sins (which only God can do), He shows his omniscience by “knowing the Pharisees thoughts”, and allows a low life tax collector (Matthew) to become one of his disciples. Right in front of the Pharisees, there were many opportunities for them to show God’s love to needy people. Sadly, they were not interested in showing kindness or concern for the needy, but rather concerned about observing their own list of rules.
The big thing that can get me worked up (and causing me not to love) is seeing or hearing about someone who is being legalistic like the Pharisees. Outwardly, the Pharisees seemed to do the right things by following their rules, but in their hearts, they had no desire to serve God. Loving others is hard, but this world needs to see Christ’s love. His love can be seen as we show kindness, care, and concern to individuals who are struggling in this life. As we live our lives, we need to be sensitive to the Spirits leading, because there are many people out in the world who are hurting and who are looking for someone to love them. Sure it is easier to act like a Pharisee, by looking spiritual on the outside, than it is to love one another, but this is the way God chose, “he desires mercy and not sacrifice”.
Jesus would always seem harsh against the ones that did not want the things of God. The religious rulers took the biggest hit on this. They would show outward holiness by keeping the law, while on the inside of them there was nothing that even desired the things of God.
Jesus would also seem harsh against Israel at times. He would call them an adulterous generation. Adulterous, because they had the Messiah right in front of them, but they did not accept him. They continually sought after other gods, ignoring the one true God who came in the flesh.
The unbelieving crowd was another group that Jesus seemed harsh against. The disciples fell into this group quite a bit of the time. The disciples were with Jesus 24/7, but they would constantly forget what he could do or has done. There were many miracles done just so the disciple could see first hand that Jesus was who he said he was. The feeding of the five thousand was one of these events. Each disciple got a basket of breadcrumbs to carry afterwards for a reminder.
Some might think that it is harsh to mention that there is an actual hell. Hell is a real place. This place is an eternal separation from God. It is a terrible place, because the one that goes there will be in their physical body that can feel pain and worse than that, they will remember the opportunities that they had to be saved from it. No one spoke more about hell than Jesus did. He would mention how there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in darkness. He spoke the most about it, but also he did the most to keep people from going there, by dying on the cross and being resurrected from the grave. He beat sin and death and now provides eternal life to those who believe. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, eternal spiritual separation from God (i.e. Hell) can now be avoided.
I have heard it said that you can tell a man’s stress level by how many keys he has on his key chain. If this theory is correct, then I would rate very high on the stress charts, because I carry two sets of key chains. Since I have run a business, I have keys for my trucks, padlocks, and many many other things. I carry every key that I might need with me always. I do not feel stressed having that many keys, but I did yesterday when I could not find my second set of keys. The stress level started to rise when I was at the auto parts store. This was when I realized that my second set was not with me. Then I started thinking back to the last time that I seen them. Oh no! It has been over four hours since I remembered using them. Within those four hours, I had been to multiple stores in multiple towns, getting in and out of an old truck with rusty floor boards. Those keys could be anywhere. I called home for the search to begin as I started back tracking, trying to follow all of my paths. Unfortunately, they were not found even with all of our efforts. All evening and night, my mind continued to think about where I might have laid them down at. This morning I searched the garage and walked the entire lawn, driveway, and around and in every truck. No luck again. Frustrated, I began untangling an extension cord. As I was walking backwards toward one of my trucks, I heard a jingle. I looked down and there were my missing set of keys. They have been there in plain sight the entire time. How did we miss them? A great sense of relief came over me, as I began letting everyone know that I found my keys. It is funny how God uses episodes in our lives to remind us of his love and character. I was reminded of the parable of the woman with the lost coin in Luke fifteen. She searched for that missing coin extensively. Lamps were lit and she even swept the floor to be sure to get every corner. At last it was found! She let everyone know about her find and she wanted to share her joy with them. This story mirrors God’s character, as He does not give up on the lost one but pursues him. In the same way, there is great joy when that one comes into a right relationship with Him. What a wonderful joy it is to be in a right relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah and basically took everything that he found to be valuable to him. It seemed to be a practice to not only take silver and gold, but to also take young men and women who might be useful to the Babylonian Empire. In this raid, Nebuchadnezzar took some young men that were good looking, well-educated, and had the ability to enter into the kings service. Among these young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. For the next three years they were to learn the literature and language of the Babylonians, so they would be able to be in the kings palace. Daniel had already made up his mind before hand not to eat the wonderful royal delicacies that the king assigned for them to eat. Daniel decided this because eating some of this food would have broke the Mosaic law dealing with unclean foods and the drinking of strong drink. Daniel talked with his overseer to see if he could eat only vegetables and drink water, but the overseer was fearful of losing his head. Then Daniel had to speak to the overseers boss for permission and he agreed for them to try that diet for ten days. At the end of the ten days, these four young men looked healthier than the others, so they were allowed to stay on their vegetable diet. Throughout this God’s hand was on these young men, because “in every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.” (Dan 1:20) The text does not say how many young men were taken, but only four are mentioned that remembered their Jewish heritage and did not conform to their new world around them. It seems that they took a bold stand without the worry of “fitting in” or being popular among their peers. They knew that God would be with them and that He would bless them for their obedience to His Word.
If you are a follower of Christ, you must rebel against conformity to this world. Each time we follow the evil ways of this world, we are like silly putty being molded into something other than Christ likeness. I see Daniel here as a bright light shining during a dark time in Judah’s history. He refused to be conformed to the world around him. Be a Daniel, rebel against conformity to this world.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)
I was a little leery at first about putting my full trust in Jesus Christ. I thought that God was sadistic, and he was waiting to torture me after I started to follow him. I was afraid that I might be tested like Job was. Now after knowing God, I found out that he is not sadistic, but he sometimes does have his children go through things in life that are anything but pleasant. Following Christ can be scary and joyful at the same time. Being able to fellowship with the creator of the universe is awesome, but when God starts taking you out of your comfort zone, it can be scary. Especially when he takes you through situations that does not make sense (at least at the present time). He took me out of a good stable job to attend a Bible college, so I would be more equipped to work with teens. Throughout this process, I have had to give up a lot of extra luxuries that comes with a job with a big paycheck. The eye opener was when we had to sell our dream house that we restored in the country (1880’s Victorian farm house on five acres). Throughout all this, God has continued to take me out of my comfort zone as he is trying to make me more dependent upon him. We cannot do great things for God unless we are totally and completely dependent upon Him in all the areas of our lives.