Divine Service: Sun-8:00AM & 9:00AM, Mon-7:00PM

Bible Study & Sunday School: Sun-10:45AM

TEXT: MARK 10:32-45
Adapted by Pastor Wieting from Dr. Timothy Quill’s sermon


The sermon this evening is drawn from Dr. Timothy Quill’s sermon preached here yesterday but with a freely adapted ending.


Jesus took the Twelve aside and confidentially explained to them in very clear terms the central message of the Christian faith. He was going up to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise on the third day. His message was unmistakably clear.

James and John then took Jesus aside from the other ten and made this request, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you,” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left.”

TEXT: MARK 10:32-45
Adapted by Pastor Wieting from Dr. Timothy Quill’s sermon


The sermon this evening is drawn from Dr. Timothy Quill’s sermon preached here yesterday but with a freely adapted ending.


Jesus took the Twelve aside and confidentially explained to them in very clear terms the central message of the Christian faith. He was going up to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise on the third day. His message was unmistakably clear.  

James and John then took Jesus aside from the other ten and made this request, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you,” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left.”


Jesus is about to suffer and die for the sins of the world.  Even at that moment His chosen Apostles are beset with selfish ambition and the desire for power and position. When the others heard what James and John were seeking, they were indignant (resentful, angry) at James and John.  The whole bunch was filled with thoughts of self-promotion, of seeking power and prominence and positions of authority by following Jesus.


Concerning real authority Jesus made this astonishing statement after His resurrection.  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.


The Son of God came down in the flesh under the authority of God the Father.  He ordered Himself under – submitted Himself to the Father’s will.  Having conquered sin and Satan on the cross and having risen with victory over death, all authority in heaven and on earth is now given to Jesus in the flesh.  As God and Man He then authorizes and sends His Apostles to baptize and to teach the Gospel.  These are the same apostles who in today’s text are preoccupied with self-interest.


As the risen Christ sent them out to baptize and to teach they no doubt remembered, with no small amount of shame, the day they were with Jesus on their way to Jerusalem as recorded in our text.  For them it was another day of longing for a higher earthly position - of trying to climb higher in comparison with others.  For Jesus it was a day to teach the difference between the world’s understanding of authority and the divine authority given to Apostles, pastors and missionaries.  “You know that those regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and that their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not dome to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


The Apostles were sent to preach and teach all that the Lord handed over to them.  At the center of their message was the cross, our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection.  This is the focal point of Lent.  This is the main point of the Gospel for this Sunday.  This is the center of all mission proclamation of the church to all nations and to the end of the age.


Apostles and pastors are not called upon to be successful, to be respected by the world or to be given honor, prestige and power.  They are called to serve as Christ did, to give their life for the world.  When the apostles and pastors forgive and retain sins they do so because they have been authorized by Christ to do so.  This is how they serve!  When they baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, it is God Himself who is baptizing and forgiving sins.  This is what they have been authorized by Christ to do.


In every generation, the church, pastors and laity, are tempted to seek positions of power and prestige.  Whenever such temptations come to us – to use Jesus to climb the ladder – we do well to remember that Jesus’ moment of greatest triumph was on the cross.  The two men – on Jesus’ right and Jesus’ left were sinners.  Is that where you want to be?


Surprisingly the answer is “yes”.  Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? Jesus asks? To drink the cup with Jesus is to share in our Lord’s suffering as he took upon Himself the wrath of God against our rebellion.  We cannot drink the cup in that we die for the sins of the world.  But Jesus does invite us to drink from His cup in the Lord’s Supper knowing that He has turned God’s cup of wrath into a cup of blessing to be received in faith.


Today Jesus asks, “Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? Again, the surprising answer is “yes”.  As St. Paul asks, Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3)  With St. Paul you can say.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)


As our seminaries train pastors, missionaries and pastor-missionaries, the theological training includes Hebrew, Greek, Biblical studies, doctrine, and Church history.  It is very rigorous, yet in many respects teaching seminarians to master the content of the Christian faith is not as difficult as forming a pastoral character that reflects what Jesus said of Himself in this text.  Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Is this not the most difficult thing for each of us in whatever vocation we serve?


It’s easy to wag our fingers at James and John – like the other ten did.  But notice that Jesus does not!  Rather, He has a few words of instruction to say to correct them.  He patiently continues to teach them that they do not know what they are asking for.  And we’re stuck in the same boat, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought.  By nature we want what is sweet and secure.  We want our sports teams to win, to get a close parking spot at the market and just enough sunshine and just enough rain.  We’d like a little more money (never quite enough) and the best for our children and grand children.


There may be sin, in our praying, “Lord, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Grant us tranquility untroubled by the needs of others.  Grant us absolute freedom from family squabbles and health needs.  Grant us total protection from an economy or a government that may harm us.  Grant us more and bigger and better than we have now.  Keep all suffering away and bring unbridled success to our doors.  You see we are always in danger of risking our soul to gain whatever seems to satisfy us right now.

But there also may be nothing wrong with desiring and requesting such gifts of daily bread from God.  James and John may have been told “no” but they weren’t chided for making their request.  They may not have known what to ask for, but they knew who to ask.  And that’s what matters.  What matters is that we ask Him!  What matters is that we know that God tenderly invites to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.


And when we make such requests, we can be sure that God is going to give us what we need – not always what we want.  To James and John our Lord gave the cup from which He Himself would drink and the baptism with which He Himself would be baptized.  To their lips He pressed the chalice of martyrdom; The sword of Herod baptized the body of James.  He was the first of the twelve who died as a witness to Him who ransomed us.  In that, James really is preeminent.  He received His crown.


And in that there really was an answer to his request.  For what James desired most of all was to be beside his Lord Jesus.  As God gave His answer, not only was James beside Christ, he was in Christ and Christ was in James.  He was crucified with Christ so that it was no longer James who lived but Christ who lived in Him.  As do all those who are baptized into Christ, James sat down on the throne with our Lord.


Dear Christians, that’s the truth that undergirds every prayer and every problem and every pain of this brief life.  Jesus came to not to be served but to serve.  He serves you so fully and so well that He has prepared for you eternal pleasures at God’s right hand.  He jockeyed for no earthly position but went forward to assume your position on Calvary to give you His position in heaven.


What also you want most of all is also to be with Christ for eternity.  You were created through Him and for Him.  Every longing for good things, every request for healing and help, every prayer for a secure position, finds its ultimate answer in Him.  Like James and John – finding our way in this sinful world - we don’t know how to pray for that as we should.  But also like he did with James and John, Jesus patiently continues to teach us and to lead us and to pray for us in keeping with the Father’s will.  He uses all of His authority to wash you and to feed you and to forgive you and to prepare a place for you – His place!


To Him be all honor and glory who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is one God, now and forever.  Amen.