O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Least of all
Least of all
Based on Mark 9:30-37
Preached on September 23, 2018
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Why does Jesus keep talking about rising from the dead?” Peter said to John as they toddled along. “I don’t know. I don’t get it. We’re headed to Jerusalem – to the throne. He is finally going to take His rightful place – as King over Israel. And us with Him. Seated at His side,” John replied beaming. “Yeah, finally - but He keeps talking about being delivered into the hands of men. Of being killed. I don’t get it and I’m afraid to ask Him,” Peter continued. “What difference does it make – what matters now is who He will put at His right side – who will be the greatest,” John returned, and with that the two disciples began arguing over which of them should have the better seat.
Now, we may be disciples that live two thousand years later, but sometimes it seems like we have no idea what Jesus comes to save us from either. Seriously, what are the frustrations you think about on a day-to-day basis? What kind of salvation are you hoping for? The disciples thought Jesus would save them from the Roman Empire. How about you? Today, if you were asked in public what you want for the world, would you say that you want EVERY PERSON to be baptized into Christ for eternal salvation, and STAY united to Him by hearing preaching and receiving His Sacrament? Or would you say something like world peace, or an end to hunger – even though these are not the salvation Christ offers? The private reality is that you don’t even think about world peace everyday, let alone salvation from Sin, Death and the Devil. The kind of salvation most of us are really hoping for has deteriorated into a list of personal pet peeves. Salvation from bad drivers. Salvation from rising bills and gas prices. Salvation from hard work. Aches and pains. Unhappiness. Or whatever other quibbles take up our thoughts. We are exactly the same as those disciples on the road. We do not go through our day meditating on Jesus’ promise of eternal life, or being saved from Sin, Death and the Devil. We think about what would make our life more comfortable and more glorious.
But the contrast is intense, isn’t it? Jesus tells His most faithful disciples that He is going to be killed and rise – and they are arguing over which of them is the GREATEST. Christ is staring down His suffering and death, and they are staring down their personal glory. It’s sickening – the contrast. But way to close to home. We have a hard time understanding Jesus’ words of sacrifice and salvation – but this argument of who is the greatest – this prove myself right – strive to be first selfishness – this I understand. I understand it all too well.
Jesus asks them, “What were you discussing on the way?” Oh Oh. Caught. They don’t say a word. They are embarrassed. And they should be. While Jesus is driving Himself to the throne of the cross, we are trying to claw our way to the top. Our selfishness is trying to steal what Christ wants to give for free.
Time for a lesson. He sits down and calls His guilty, embarrassed disciples to gather around. This is an important one. He says, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” What is He talking about now? More difficult sayings? No. Here it is – plain and simple. Jesus is talking about Himself. And there is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for what it means.
He doesn’t put Himself first. He puts us first. The ALMIGHTY - whose first commandment is to put Him first – PUTS US AHEAD OF HIMSELF! Stop and think about that for a second – and it will blow your mind. How could the Creator of all things – the eternal One - the One who knows all – POSSIBLY put you above Him? But that’s exactly what He does in Christ. If anyone would be first, He must be last of all and servant of all. Jesus is laying BARE God’s true heart. That His GREAT LOVE raises up every worthless sinner to a place above Him – and offers them Himself as their slave. A slave they can beat, and mock and spit on and kill. For this is exactly what Jesus is headed for. Exactly what He is talking about. The Son of Man is going be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And after three days HE WILL RAISE UP ALL OF HUMANITY – to serve them EVEN MORE with forgiveness and new life and the promise of eternal mercy in the presence of God!
He has FREED us. Put Himself last – Put you – ahead of Him – put Sarah ahead of Him, saw it with your own eyes, heard it with your own ears – Sarah felt in with her own forehead – HERE – receive My service – let Me be the servant that washes you - that gets down on my knees and washes you – not with soap and a cloth – but with my Most Holy Blood, the blood I offered for you as payment – to buy you, and win you from your countless sins and bitter death. Let ME! Let ME! Let Me be last and serve you.
That God does for us is so ridiculous, so unfathomable, so beyond telling – we might imagine that this is something He would only deign to do once. But No. This is His way. This is His eternal way. He is the First and the Last. He serves you EVERYDAY! Continues to get down on His knees and beg you to receive His gifts. To read your Bible – come to Bible class – hear the preaching – and eat His Body and Blood. He wants to keep serving you, forgiving you, feeding you. What do you say to something like that? What do you say to Him?
Thank you Lord. Bless you Lord. Make me LIKE you Lord. Change my selfish heart. Make it a servant’s heart – like yours. That puts everyone first. But most of all – keep me receiving from you Lord. Hold me to you and this precious service you offer me.
Beloved, there’s more. He doesn’t just serve you here. He intends to serve you and host you in His kingdom for all eternity. This is not something that will change. No. This is His glory. He is the ONE! The First and the Last. And He will BE that One for you, for all His people, forevermore. No. There’s nothing left to do. But praise Him! Praise His Holy Name, forever and ever. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr