How Not To Be Great In the Kingdom
Introduction: Men seek greatness by worldly means, but such won’t work in God’s Kingdom.
* 4 worldly ways found in Matt. 20:20-25.
1. Political Power-play (vv. 20-21).
* “Not what you know, but who you know.”
* Mt. 20:20 – James’ & John’s mother asked on their behalf (all 3 together) – right after Jesus explained His death!
* Jesus asked, “What wilt thou?” She asked for places of prominence for her boys.
* James & John were bold (Mk. 9:38, Luke 9:54). Called “sons of Thunder” (Mk. 3:17).
* Relationship factored into this request. Mother of the sons of Zebedee (Salome) is the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus
(Mt. 27:56, Mk. 15:40, Jn. 19:25).
* Salome worshiped Jesus desiring something of Him, but wouldn’t immediately disclose what it was until He asked.
* She would receive glory through her sons, if the request were granted.
* James and John wanted glory without suffering; a crown without a cross. Maybe they thought Peter had disqualified
himself from a prominent position.
* The church still suffers from those who seek preeminence! (Mt. 23:6-9; III Jn. 9).
2. Ambition (vv. 22-24).
* Ignorance (v. 22) –
* II Cor. 4:17 – path to greatness is suffering; affliction – for the cause of Christ.
* Those who obey and work for the Lord receive eternal life (Mt. 20:1-16).
* Jesus asked if they could drink of His cup – could they endure the His level of suffering?
- “Cup” – OT symbol, “to take everything in.” (Isa. 51:17, 22).
* Their excessive confidence! “We can take it!” Our own strength not enough! Recall Peter (Mt. 26:33-75).
* The disciples would taste of Jesus’ cup, but not drink all of it. James, the 1st martyred apostle (Acts 12:2). John, exiled
* Only God will pass out rewards (Mt. 20:23).
* Other disciples upset, still arguing over who would be greatest days later (Luke 22:24-27).
3. Dominant dictatorship (v. 25).
* History populated by dictators: Hitler, Ptolemys, etc.
* Dictators in the church, too (III Jn. 9). Peter instructed elders not to “lord their authority” over the flock (I Pet. 5:3).
4. Charismatic control (v. 25).
* Many exist in religion who are charismatic, endearing, and the masses are quick to follow them.
- Jim Jones
* Don’t use your personality to manipulate others.
5. Conclusion: Seek greatness through service. You must drink the cup before wearing the crown (Mt. 20:20-28).
R.W. McAlister 6/13/10 p.m.