Sunday School Material 2-20-11: Jesus Came To Serve
(Mark 10:35-45; 2/20/11)
Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that disciples of Christ should focus on service, instead of simply status. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on our serving the Lord, instead of straining to have self gratifying status.
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Read Mark 10:35-37
I. Selfish Request. James and John came to Jesus. They asked Him to do for them whatever they wanted. They wanted to sit in the seats of great status.
- Calling in favors. Notice in vss. 35, 37 of our Sunday School material that James and John sought a special favor from the Lord. They wanted to sit in seats of great honor and status. Some commentators have speculated that perhaps James and John were some kind of blood relatives of Jesus.
Others think that maybe because of their being inner circle disciples, they thought it would be alright to ask. It is unfortunate but true that there are those in the church who think that because of family ties or their title that they deserve special treatment.
Let’s fight the temptation of trying to calling in favors with those whom God is using in leadership. This is especially the case in giving work assignments. The best person for the job should always be selected, whether the person is a family member or not and whether the person has a current position of leadership or not.
When the wrong person is put in a position, the work will suffer, and the whole body will suffer, because we are in this thing together.
- Accessing before acting. Notice in vs. 36 of our Sunday School material that Jesus asked James and John what they wanted, before He responded. Jesus did not assume; He assessed. There are too many who jump to conclusions, without finding out the facts.
This can be very destructive in a marriage, a parent and child relationship, among friends, and even on our jobs. Let’s work on making sure we understand the facts, before we take action.
Often the best source of what a person is thinking is the person’s declaration of what they are thinking. In other words, we should be careful about putting our “gut” and what others are saying above what a person says about themselves.
Read Mark 10:38-41
II. Suffering Revealed. Jesus explained that such seats called for much suffering. James and John indicated that they could handle it. Jesus said they would have some suffering, but He didn’t handle the seating assignments.
The other disciple got angry, when they heard what was going on. Perhaps they were angry because of the overly ambitious James and John, or they may have been angry because James and John asked before anyone else could ask.
- Immature inner circle disciples. Notice in vss. 38-39 of our Sunday School material that even though James and John were inner circle disciples, they lacked discernment in the areas of seats and suffering. Title and seniority are not always indications of spiritual maturity and wisdom.
Let’s strive to be mature disciples of Christ. This means that we don’t simply collect titles and years of being around. It means that we develop our knowledge, obedience, and wisdom regarding God’s will. Let’s also be careful about how much trust we put in others, simply because of their title or seniority.
- Staying in our lanes. Notice in vs. 40 of our Sunday School material that Jesus stayed in His lane. That is, Jesus stayed focused on what was assigned to Him to do (i.e., develop His disciples and pay the price at Calvary), instead of trying to do that which was not assigned to Him (i.e., seating assignments).
In order for any group of two or more people to function with effectiveness and efficiency, it is important for each person to do his/her part and stay out of the way of the rest of those in the group. Implied in this idea is a clear understanding of and competency in who does what.
Let’s work on staying in our lanes (i.e., do our parts and stay out of the way of others). In the church, the Pastor is to feed and lead, the officers are to assist the Pastor, the members are to grow in faith and follow pastoral leadership (see I Pet. 5:1-4; Acts 6:1-6; I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 13:17).
Read Mark 10:42-45
III. Service Required. Jesus teaches about servant leadership. This idea includes serving one’s way to leadership, as opposed to simply using force. Jesus cites Himself as an example.
- Responding to issues. Notice in vs. 42 of our Sunday School material that Jesus responded to the conflict among His disciples. He did not let it get out of control. He didn’t send a committee out to bring back a recommendation, so He would not be blamed for anything. Jesus gave leadership to the situation.
There are times when if we act now, we can save so much trouble down the road. And then there are times when if we take the wrong action now, we will feel the results of it for years to come. Let’s seek the wisdom and courage to respond to issues in ways that glorify God.
What glorifies God doesn’t always please people. Consequently, we need to focus on glorifying God.
- Servant leadership. Notice in vss. 42-45 of our Sunday School material the idea of servant leadership. On one side, there are those who over emphasize leadership. They give orders and expect absolute compliance and will destroy all who oppose his/her orders.
There is apparently no service. On the other side, there are those who are great servants, but they are so busy serving that they are not giving leadership. Let’s strive to be servant leaders and support others are who are doing the same.
Jesus lifts Himself as an example. He was a servant, in that He met the needs of people (e.g., healings, teachings, feedings, etc.). But He was also a leader.
Without a vote, He selected His team, scheduled when and where things were to happen, disciplined (e.g., the rebuke of Peter), and even implied that if things were too rough that people were free to leave (see Jn. 6:61-67). In other words, servant leaders are both servants and leaders, not simply one or the other.
Conclusion: Based on our Sunday School material, let’s work on serving the Lord, instead of straining to have self gratifying status. God has much for those who obey His will.
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