Not What We Expected
We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is raised from the dead then death has been defeated, sin overcome, darkness conquered, It also means life is not always what we expect. Easter reminds us that things are different that we would like. Familiar story of resurrection. Have you ever had something go in a way that was not what you expected. Dollar store purchase. Soak guns that look great in the bag but break when you use them. Kids sit there after 1 minute look at their gun thinking this is not the way I expected it to go. Sometimes life can leave you feeling that way. How many people are here today and your life is not what you expected? If you had told me in highschool that I would marry and incredible girl, have four kids (who are awesome), live in Atlanta, and pastor a church, I would have said you were crazy. None of those things were on my radar. It is incredible blessing. But if you told me all the hardship and difficulties that would go into each one of those things I don’t think I would have ever attempted any of them. The highs are high the lows are low. Enduring those hardship would not have been expected either. At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He died for our sins. He rose for our vindication. Easter is the promise of future victory. I think a lot of times people present the victory of Easter as a way to find victory in life now. It is the four steps to a better life, five steps to your best life, those things may have their place, but Easter is so much more than that, and following Christ is so much greater than experiencing victory in this life. We are looking at a passage today in which Jesus predicts his death and also tells us what he came to do. And he does this as he corrects his disciples expectations of what it means to serve him. Greatness in the kingdom does not meet their expectations. And Jesus helps them see what true greatness really is. It is a great reversal of their expectations, and also our expectations. Text And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." 36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" 37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 38 Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" 39 And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:35-45 ESV) Prop: We want to rule in power and glory, but the gospel does not meet those expectations. Jesus came to give his life for many, and disciples of Jesus are called to the same sacrificial surrender, and in that we find life. I want to talk about a few things from this passage that are not as we thought.
- Not the role that we expect.
People are interested in what role they are. I want to be the main actor, the one with the big part. I want to be first team, not a backup. I want to be a ruler, not a busboy. Kingdom of God is the same way. James and John are two of Jesus disciples. They are brothers. He calls them sons of thunder (mark 3:17). So they must have had big personalities. That certainly seems the case here. They swing big but they utterly miss things. You have to appreciate the boldness of these guys. I mean they essentially go up to Jesus and ask if he will give them a blank check. “We want you to do whatever we ask.” You know if you kids ask you that you better sit down and go ahead and hit record on your phone because this is going to be good material. Jesus would have pulled out his iphone at this point. In some ways their request is not as bad as it could be. But they are essentially asking to have the two highest positions in Jesus kingdom. They are with Jesus. Believe him to be the messiah. Want to be his great generals. His left and right hand men. The VP. The second of the kingdom. They want authority. This also reveals a problem in the other disciples because a dispute breaks out. They were not happy about it. V41. They were angry. Clearly James and John get the early jump but there are no different than the other disciples, or different from us. They all want to be great. They want to be great. Mega phone. Megaloi from root mega, which means great large. Great people do great things. They want to be powerful, but Jesus calls them to be servants. That is not what they expected. Many of us want to glorify God by hoisting up the Master Trophy. But God calls us to be caddies, or a hacker. Serving Jesus doesn’t always mean we get the role that we want. It doesn’t mean that we get the highest title. We are to do the right thing even when the right thing doesn’t get rewarded, or compensated the way we might like. Want to be great then you need to become a servant. There’s your title! As Deitrich Bonhoeffer tells us, “When Jesus calls a man he bids him come and die.” That is very different from our expectations. It was very different from James and John’s expectations. Life is not about us. It is not about our glory. It is about God’s glory regardless of what happens to us. Me center society. Don’t tell me I cant do something. We think its obvious we would be at the right hand of God. The ones God considers great are those willing to lay it all down for him. Escapism/struggle is when life doesn’t go the way we hope and think it should. Tough to contemplate. Even tougher when God puts us in our place. You want this, but thats not for you. Servants don’t demand their role.
- Not the manner that we thought.
James and John want glory. Jesus tells them it’s through a path of suffering. You know role and manner go together. We want the big title because it means we don’t have to do the other stuff. I want to be the boss/dad so I don’t have to take out the trash. The low title has to clean the bathroom. I don’t want that. Then it’s vacation weak, everyone else is on vacation, and your taking out the trash. What happened! When they ask to be left or right, Jesus asks if they are able to drink the cup he drinks and be baptized with his baptism. He wants to know if they are able to do certain things. Cup and bapt describe a severe yet temporary judgment of God. Drink the cup is an old testament symbol for suffering and wrath (psalm 75:8, isa 51:17-22, Jer 25:15, Ezek 23:31-34, Mk 14:36). Drink the cup is a way to say that you will “stay with something until the end.” Jesus wants disciples that will go all the way to the end. They clearly didn’t grasp what Jesus was saying. They didn’t grasp how great the cost would be. They think they can do what Jesus will do. The cup Jesus will drink is the full weight of the judgment of God’s hand. *“These disciples recognized the need to make sacrifices in order to reach the desired goals. This is probably how they wanted to understand Jesus passion prediction: as a highly metaphorical way of speaking about a hard struggle before success.” John Nolland. 821 We all want to be blessed by God, and we are in favor of that, as long as it doesn’t cost us anything. This may be the greatest expression of our idolatry of self. We serve God as long as it is easy and convenient for us. They want glory but through a path without sacrifice. Similar to how Satan tempts Jesus. Tells him he can rule all the world if he just bows down and worships him. Problem is in what they left out. What are you leaving out. Serving God can be abstract. God’s word makes it clear though. How is God’s word guiding you in your decision? If not you are doing your own thing. The power that Jesus gives is the power to lay down your life. The power to lose everything because you know that you have so much more. Jesus corrects this by telling them true greatness comes not by seeking to be above others but to be a servant of all. He refines success. James and John took Jesus teaching on greatness to heart. They would initially flee for their lives and abandon Jesus. But after the resurrection they were strengthened and grew. That is often the result of brash confidence. Its about staying the course when all fails. (Acts 12:2) All of us have parts of our lives in which God calls us to do things that are beyond our preference. Maybe you didn’t think you would have to fight cancer at this age; didn’t think you would have to put with this from my husband; never thought my kids would; didn’t think my job would require. Can lead to a spiral of depression. Tiger woods comeback. Some said he is the most gifted golfer ever, yet he has had significant struggles, part of which was the incredible back pain. He couldnt even swing a club with his kids. Fifteen years ago no one would have thought he would win his next major after an eleven year drought, dropping outside the top golfers… Woods has tried to recover from multiple surgeries for his ACL, a ruptured Achilles and back fusion surgery two years ago that left him doubting if he'd ever play the game again.But with Sunday's victory -- his fifth at Augusta -- Woods' 15 major. 14 Major wins in 11 years. 11 years for his next. MJ. Greatest comback of all time.
- Not the God that we thought.
For Jesus the receiving of glory is through a road of suffering. We may think it unfair that we find life through death. That we find glory through humility, but that is what our God does. Have you ever thought what you would do if you were God? Some of you are like man I would never have to get up to find the remote again! Never have another inconvenience, or hardship. Our God is not like us. We think Lordship means pampering, but biblically it means service. Serving others. Series of great reversals. The first are last, last first. Greatest is servant of all. Most unexpected: Jesus laying down his life for sinners. Now God exemplifies that in giving his life as a ransom. Ransom, lutron, this was the payment given for a slave, the amount required to buy his freedom. The ransom Jesus gives is his own life. He lays down his life for slaves. The lowest of the low. Me and you. It is unthinkable. Consider a boss taking out the trash. Now consider, your God in your place. Dying on a cross. Beaten and bloodied for you. He gives his life for you. that of being set in place of another. It is used to denote an exchange or substitution. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5 NIV) There is no greater sacrifice than laying down your life for another. There is no greater act of love. God brings life but not as we thought death. Life through death. Through the sin of one man death entered the world but through the act of the one man life. He becomes a life giving spring… We are saved from our sins through the life and death of Jesus. Easter is about death being conquered. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot atone for our sin. This smack our independence in the face. There are a lot of DIY projects you can do, but trying to atone for your sin is destined to fail. It also means that we embrace a life of sacrifice for God and others. Can you expect to come to it any other way; or to have more ease and honour than he has?" Isn’t the problem we want glory but through ease and honor. Jesus makes is clear that only sacrifice and dishonor. The resurrection reminds us that when life does not go as we expect or hope, we can still have hope that it will end well. Jesus redeems us. He redeems our lives, our suffering, our sacrifice. Cultures wrestle with pain and misery. They come up with ways to help people through. Hardships suck the life out of you. People try to understand these. Moralist say do whats right and no pain will come. Some of the moralist appeal to karma and hope that if not this life it might get better in the next. Its a wishful thinking at best. Some try to find ways to minimize the pain. Suffering comes not from past deeds but from unfulfilled desires, and those desires come from unfulfilled desires, and those desires are the result of the illusion that we are individual selves. Like Greek stoics Buddha taught that suffering is the extinguishing of desires. We are to attain a “calmness of soul in which all desires is dissolved.” Hard to do when the most precious things in life are taken. Jesus teaches that pain is real, it hurts, it is unbearably painful. It is also wrong. It’s a consequence of the fall and sin. And yet there is life beyond these. Teaches the kernel falls to the ground and dies, but after death it sprouts to life. It means our life now is a dying… "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1Co 15:45 ESV) We find life, not as we expected. We find life in the path of our savior which is gaining life by giving. More blessed to give than receive. Its the irony of giving. Jesus shows true life, true greatness, true glory comes not from hoarding things to ourselves but in giving of ourselves to others. Laying down our lives is is not ultimately just about us overcoming hardship to win a championship or get a good job. Its about us giving our lives so others might know this Jesus, this Savior and redeemer. And in doing this we find the greatest way to serve others. Jesus makes a connection between what he does and what his followers will do. Do this just as i did. Have this mentality about yourself. Its not about what you can get for yourself, but what you can give to others. It means that if we are going to follow Jesus then our lives should look like his, as though we came to serve others. To give ourselves. To lay down our lives. Not to have everything bow down to us. Our work is an opportunity to do this. Our marriages. Our parenting. It doesn’t mean we cater to their desires, that is not loving your children. It means that we are serving them in all that we do. And sometimes you sit there and think I’m not where I ought to be. Not where I expected to be. Why is it so hard. I cant answer all of those questions for you. But I can tell you that in the cross all the things you think are wrong are made right. Maybe you think, God I put you first, i did all this for you and look at how things went. You did me wrong. Just remember you are bringing your complaint to a sinless Savior who was crucified by sinful people. Jesus leads us to glory but it is through a path of suffering. Conclusion The cross teaches us that it can be OK when we suffer, when life does not go the way we hope or think, when we don’t live up to the title we hoped, or when we are older and doing lowly things. We put ourselves last and lowest. It’s in those moments we begin to find life. Jesus makes sense of our suffering. He redeems our suffering. James and John gave their lives for the message. They sit in glory now. If Jesus is our Lord we must believe and follow him. There must be a faith that leads to a genuine allegiance to him. You can’t call someone your Lord and then go away and look completely unlike him. True faith and commitment change the way you live. If you have a real commitment to getting in shape you .... Too many call Jesus Lord but their lives show no commitment to the things he calls them to do. You have to give up on the thought that you can have Jesus with minimal cost. Easter. Hard ask is to surrender your life to Jesus. Trust him with you pain. Follow him in your hardship. Stop trying to do better and realize you need to submit completely to his Lordship. You cant kind of lay down your life for him. I ll take care of my sins myself. You think some of your do it yourself house projects have gone bad. Well this is far worse and far greater consequences. Soft ask: take the next step.