How to be Great

GOSPEL READING      Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39They replied, “We are able.” Then 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; 40but 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.”
  41When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Pastor John’s Message – Be A Great Servant

Every person I know who has been truly happy 
has learned how to serve others. 
– Albert Schweitzer

In the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45, Jesus answers the question, “How does one become great?” 
 
Throughout history, our culture has given people the title, The Great One. When I was young, everybody knew the name of at least one hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, he was nicknamed, “The Great One.” In my father’s generation, there was the comedian, Jackie Gleason. He became known as the greatest comedian and was given the title, “The Great One.” 
 
In today’s media, people who are considered great are called goats, the “Greatest of All Time.” There’s a quarterback, whose name we do not speak in church, he’s older than dirt and still throwing touchdown passes, he’s often called the GOAT. This is greatness defined by the world. But what does it mean to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, to be great in God’s eyes? For this question about greatness, Jesus gives a most unique answer.
 
James and John were brothers. Their nickname was “the Sons of thunder.” They were passionate followers of Jesus, and they wanted to share in the future greatness of Jesus. James and John wanted to sit with Jesus when he arrived in his glory. They want to be great in the Kingdom where Jesus is the ruler. But they clearly didn’t know what that means. Jesus offers them a path to greatness, but it is a very different path than the one they had in mind. He called his disciples together and said to them, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 
 
Serving others, Jesus tells us, is the path to true greatness. And Jesus offers his own life as a model of becoming great by serving. Jesus was, and is, the greatest servant of all time.
 
According to scholars, who may or may not believe in his divinity, Jesus is considered one of the greatest people in history for the way he altered the course of world history. But according to Jesus, his pathway to greatness lies in his service. Jesus not only teaches us this new path to greatness; he lives it: The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.
 
One title given to Jesus is, the Suffering Servant. This is counter-intuitive and counter cultural, the idea that it is better to serve others, than to be the recipient of service. 
 
Albert Schweitzer was the oldest son of a Lutheran pastor in Germany. He studied theology, and was also a very gifted organist. He wrote a famous book, “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” that made him well known to Christians around the world. 
 
Although Albert was a great theologian and A great organist. At the age of 30, he abruptly decided to change the course of his life. He abandoned his promising career and went to medical school. His passion was to become a Mission Doctor. He went to Africa in order to be a medical missionary. He eventually built a hospital and a leper colony. And in 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. 
 
Albert Schweitzer would tell people that he discovered the wonderful secret of the Christian life – that we are called not to be served, but to serve. And that when we live with this desire to serve others, we find happiness, meaning and fulfillment that we cannot get by being served. 
I began this article with one of his famous quotes: “Every person I know who has been truly happy has learned how to serve others.”
 
I know this is a radical idea, and not everyone will embrace it the same way. That’s one of the beauties of Christianity, we practice service in a million ways. It could be parents caring for their children and it can be children doing good things for their parents. These are two of a million possibilities.
 
Here at Faith, our community outreach revolves around different ways of serving people. We’re helping to plan and serve the Community Harvest Dinner. We have a team of very dedicated and hard working people serving at the Clothing Bank. We collect items for the food pantry at First Lutheran in Ault. We are looking for people to help deliver meals on wheels on Thursdays. As we come together as a congregation to be the body of Christ, we will find old and new ways to be of service to each other, and to our world.
 
Finding your niche at being a servant in the world, this is essential to being a disciple and follower of Jesus. According to Jesus, serving others makes God happy and it will make you a great person.
 
Let us pray. Gracious God, your Son teaches us that there is more to life than simply being served and that we can find peace and happiness when we become servants.  Show us how we can serve the people in our lives. Amen.