Having The Heart And Hands Of A Servant
(The Ambition Of James And John)
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled, THE LIFE OF CHRIST: A Study in the Four Gospels. This 54 week course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2006.
Basic text for the course: SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, Kurt Aland, English Edition, P. 139.
As a preacher who faithfully uses the lectionary, it is prudent to use the lectionary wisely. As a seasoned pastor and veteran preacher, I think it is wise be a textual/thematic preacher. A preacher preaches on the text and also finds a specific/central theme in that text.
For me as a seasoned preacher, it is possible to preach on the theme of “Jesus and his love of children” on Pentecost 16B. On Pentecost 16B, a preacher could focus on the phrases e.g. Mark 9:36-37,“Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." A preacher could then supplement this text with Mark 10:13-16 from Pentecost 18B, “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
These two texts and two incidents about children can be brought together in one sermon on Pentecost 16B.
On Pentecost 18B, Mark 10:2-16, a preacher could focus on the theme of “marriage and divorce” but not on that portion of the text about children. The portion of that text about children could supplement the sermon on Pentecost 16B, and “Jesus’ love of children.”
On Pentecost 20B, the text for this coming Sunday, a preacher could focus on the theme of “being a servant” which is found both in Pentecost 16B (Mark 9:30-37) and Pentecost 20B (Mark 10:35-45). The theme of “being a servant” is central on both Sundays. Pentecost 16B/Mark 9:33-37: “But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."
One interpretation of this particular text in Mark 9:30-37 is some of the disciples had an inflated view of themselves and thought that they were “the greatest.” Perhaps James and John, who had been with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and had seen the splendor of Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the mountain, that spiritual experience “went to their heads” and they thought that they were the “greatest of the disciples.” James and John had become puffed up with religious superiority after the Mount of Transfiguration. Then, on Pentecost 20B/Mark 10:43-45, the same two disciples asked Jesus to grant them glory so that they could rule over heaven and earth with Jesus, one of them at the right hand of Jesus and the other at his left hand. Jesus then taught 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 a ransom for many."
In other words, we have two events about disciples wanting to be “great.” We also have two invitations by Jesus to be servants of one another. These two texts about “being a servant” can be brought together in one sermon.
Interestingly, both texts are preceded with “passion predictions.”
In other words, following both “passion predictions,” certain disciples want to be “the greatest” in the kingdom of God. Their wanting to be “the greatest” created the setting in which Jesus taught about the necessity of being a servant.
# 164. Jesus Foretells His Passion Again
Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:39-32, Luke 9:43b-45
-They went on from there and passed through Galilee. The “there” in this sentence refers to Jesus having been up north in the region of Caesarea Philippi and Mount Hermon. Jesus now arrived back in Galilee. Matthew emphasizes that the disciples were in Galilee again.
-Let these words sink into your ears. (Only in Luke) We too want the words of Jesus to finally sink into our ears and penetrate our minds, hearts and habits.
-The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, killed and after three days, he will rise/be raised. These concepts were totally perplexing for the disciples. They could not begin to fathom the suffering of the Messiah nor could they fathom the resurrection.
-They did not understand the saying. That was true of his first disciples and is often true of his disciples today. This saying is also found in Luke.
-It was concealed from them and they did not perceive it. (Only in Luke)
-The disciples were afraid to ask him about this saying. We assume that the disciples remember what happened to Peter when Peter didn’t accept this teaching of Jesus earlier. Jesus had already said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan. You are on the side of people rather than God.” The disciples just kept their mouth shut on this one, wondering what this teaching meant. But we contemporary disciples know that Jesus, the Son of God, was destined to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to give us everlasting life. We contemporary disciples know that it was Jesus’ destiny to die…and rise again.
#166. True Greatness
Matthew 18:1-4, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48
-When he came to Capernaum. We recall the geography of Jesus and the location of Capernaum. Jesus was back into his hometown again.
Later in this lesson, we will refer to the archeological ruins at Chorazin. These ruins at Chorazin have several ancient, first century grinding stones or millstones. Chorazin and Capernaum were neighboring villages. Both villages had millstones.
-And when he was in the house. We are clearly back to Capernaum again and we are in “the house” again. Turn to Mark 2:1, “When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home…they let the paralytic down through the roof.” Turn to Mark 1:29, “He left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon (Peter’s house).” Notice that the gospel parallels refer to Simon’s house. Notice that the “door” of the house is referred to in several anecdotes e.g. people were crowded around the door of the house. A reader certainly feels as of he/she is reading an eyewitness account of the story.
“Excavations revealed one residence that stood out from the others. This house was the object of early Christian attention with 2nd century graffiti and a 4th century house church built above it. In the 5th century a large octagonal Byzantine church was erected above this, complete with a baptistery. Pilgrims referred to this as the house of the apostle Peter.”
-Jesus asked them what they (the disciples) were discussing on the way. But they were silent for on the way they had discussed/argued with one another who was the greatest. The Gospel of Mark once again gives us these spicy details of an eyewitness. In Mark’s gospel, the disciples, while up north on Mount Hermon and the Mount of Transfiguration, were separated into two groups: Peter, James and John who went to the top of the mountain to experience the glorious transfiguration of Jesus and the other nine disciples who remained below and could not even cast out the demon in the “lunatic” boy. On the walk home to Capernaum, the disciples got into an argument as to which of them were the greatest. Who were the greatest disciples? The three who were on the top of Mount Hermon and saw the glorious Transfiguration? Or, the nine who could not cast out the demon from the little boy who had seizures? These nine disciples may have felt that they had been given lesser powers. Luke says, “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.” Luke’s account tells us that there were strong feelings among the disciples about this issue.
Do you think that some Christians today feel/believe that they are better than other Christians?
-He/Jesus sat down and called the twelve. We remember from previous lessons that the position of a teaching rabbi is to be seated.
-If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. (Only in Mark) Notice that the Gospel of Mark has this teaching and the gospels of Matthew and Luke do not.
We previously studied this teaching of Jesus when we examined the characteristics of discipleship. Jesus thought of himself as a servant and invited his disciples to be servants as well. We recall Jesus’ other similar teachings such as in Mark 10:35-45. We also remember Jesus’ foot washing at the last supper in the Gospel of John where Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet as an example of the way that they were to live and serve. We remember Paul’s words in Philippians 2:6ff, “For Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he humbled himself, taking the form of a servant.” We remember that the Apostle Paul would regularly begin his letters, “From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” We know that his followers were described as “Christians” only once in the New Testament but they were described as “servants” innumerable times.
Later, on page 225, we will study Mark 10:35-45 where James and John thought that they should be regarded as higher than the other disciples. We recall the story where John and James thought that one of them should be at Jesus’ left hand and the other at his right hand. A reader senses the event of the Transfiguration “had gone to their heads” (an American colloquialism) and these two disciples were inflating their importance. The other ten disciples were indignant at James and John for wanting to be elevated above them. Jesus then taught the following words (Mark 10:43): “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man came also not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”
The thrust of this teaching in Mark 10:35-45 is identical to his teaching in Mark 9:33-37.
Luke adds the phrase at the end of his version of this incident, “He who is least among you all is the one who is great.” The Gospel of Mark says the same thing: “If anyone would be first, they must be last of all.” The phrases, “last of all” and “least among you all” are saying the same thing.
-And he/Jesus took a child and put him in the midst/by his side. Jesus’ teaching about the spirit and humility of a child fits naturally into this gospel story. It appears that Peter, James and John, who experienced a miraculous mountaintop event, used that event to elevate themselves above the other disciples. The other nine disciples did the opposite. They other nine perhaps blamed themselves for not being able to heal the lunatic boy. The other nine may have used that event to doubt the quality of their own faith and saw themselves as having lesser faith than the “big three” disciples. Both sets were wrong. Both sets of disciples were into mental games of “superiority” and “inferiority.”
Disciples are not called to think we are superior or inferior due to experiences beyond ourselves. Rather, all of us disciples are to become like little children who are humble and trusting. Disciples of Jesus are not to play adult “mind games” of superiority or inferiority based on class, wealth, education, giftedness, religion, or religious experiences. Rather, disciples of all centuries are called to have the humility of children and be servants of Christ and one another.
-And taking him in his arms. This presupposes the child is a small child, if the child can be taken up into arms of Jesus. We will see that Jesus also took the children up into his arms in Mark 10:6. These children must have been small children to be taken up into the arms of Jesus. That is, normally, a parent can lift a five year old into his/her arms but not an eight year old.
-Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whomever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Only in Matthew) For Matthew, a child symbolizes humility and not thinking of yourself as being more valuable than others. While only Matthew has this phrase, Matthew’s thinking is parallel to Mark and Luke.
-Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. God’s children are all around the earth, and whenever one receives a child, one receives the presence of God. A child becomes the very presence of Jesus.
-Whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me. When you help children, you receive not only Christ but God who sent Christ. When you help a child, you are helping God.
-He who is least among you all is the one who is the greatest. (Only in Luke) Who is the greatest person in our contemporary American society? Normally, it is people with the most money, the most house, the most brains, or most prestigious jobs. Normally, we cater and defer to such people. But Jesus turns the values of society upside down and says that the greatest person in the world is a person who is humble and does not think of himself/herself more highly than others. Both Luke and Matthew say that that greatest person in the kingdom of God is the person who is humble.
In ancient Biblical society, the “least of these” would have included children. Children are “least” because they are small and easily controlled and manipulated by the power of adult size, adult experience and adult material resources. In first century Biblical society, children were at the bottom of the totem pole and were part of the “least of these.”
#262. The Third Prediction Of The Passion
Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34
This incident occurs later in the Jesus Story, after he left Galilee and was traveling to Jerusalem to face his coming disaster. This story occurs before he entered Jericho and had a conversation with blind Bartimaeus in Jericho.
-And as they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples still had not arrived in Jerusalem. In fact, they have still not arrived in Jericho yet. It feels as if this story occurs north of Jericho.
Remember that the phrase, “up to Jerusalem,” implies that the city of Jerusalem was on a mountain, not that Jesus was traveling north. Jesus was actually traveling south to Jerusalem.
-They (the disciples) were amazed and those who followed him, were afraid. The disciples could smell something in the air. They sensed that Jesus was walking into a tinderbox that was ready to explode.
-And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. Jesus once again addressed his twelve closest disciples but they did not comprehend what Jesus was teaching them.
-“We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes and they will condemn him to death and deliver him to the Gentiles (the Romans). Jesus knew what he was walking into. Jesus knew he was going to be delivered into the hands of the chief priests who would condemn him to death and into the hands of the Roman authorities who had the power to execute him.
-They (the Romans) will mock him and spit on him and scourge him and kill him. Jesus knew the Romans were going to spit on him, whip him and kill him.
-And after three days, he will rise. Jesus also knew he was going to rise from the dead. This is what these three passion predictions are: predictions of his passion/death AND his resurrection.
Jesus knew what was going to happen in his future. Jesus knew what was going to happen in his future, not because he was clairvoyant or a good palm reader but because he was/is the Son of God who knew the Mind of God and the plan of God for his life.
-But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them and they did not grasp what was said.” (Only Luke) Nobody grasps what is going to happen.
“Significantly, the Passion and death of Jesus is the chief element in the Gospel story that other religions cannot accept. In Islam, Jesus does not die on the cross because such a fate is considered unfitting for a prophet of Allah. By Hindus and Buddhists, Jesus is often regarded as a spiritual master, but the story of his suffering and death are considered unbecoming to an enlightenment sage. Like the Buddha, the only truly liberated transcend suffering and death. But Jesus submits to it—willingly Christians believe—for the sins of all.” Kenneth L. Woodward, New York Times, February 25, 2004.
#263.The Sons of Zebedee: Precedence Among The Disciples
Matthew 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45, Luke 12:50, 22:24-27
The gospel lesson for Pentecost 20B begins here.
-James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, We know the many gospel stories about James and John. They were two brothers, fishing partners at the Sea of Galilee, sons of Salome and Zebedee, the “sons of thunder” who had hot tempers and wanted God’s wrath called down on a Samaritan village. The two disciples were the second pair of men to become disciples, right after Peter and Andrew.
John evolved into the “other disciple” in the Gospel of John who was on the Mount of Transfiguration, was at Jesus’ side during The Last Supper, was in the Garden of Gethsemane, was at the crucifixion, was entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother when Jesus was killed on the cross, ran to the empty tomb with Peter and first believed in the Risen Christ, became the leader of the church at Ephesus, and wrote the Gospel of John and Epistle of I John.
In other words, James and John were with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry when he invited the four fishermen to follow him.
Matthew, writing later than Mark and copying 90% of Mark, softens Mark by having the mother of James and John make the request, rather than the two disciples making a demand. The whole scene is softened in Matthew, as Matthew attempts to make the disciples look better. Matthew 20:20-21, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."
In Matthew, it appears that the author could not tolerate the arrogance of two disciples of Jesus making such a self- centered and self-serving statement, and so Matthew softens the situations by making the mother of the disciples ask a question on their behalf.
-"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." They called Jesus “teacher.” Repeatedly in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is THE teacher.
The two of them make a very a very self-centered and self-serving statement: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
Sometimes, in our modern world in this twenty-first century, we still repeat the identical demand to God: “Lord God, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” And then we ask God for our own way, what we want e.g. healing for ourselves, our loved ones, a good job, a good spouse, a good house, a miracle of some sort, a special blessing, a way “out of a jam.”
-And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" Jesus knew to ask what they wanted.
This is the identical question that Jesus will ask of blind Bartimeaus in the next gospel lesson. It was obvious that Bartimeaus was physically blind. It was not so obvious that James and John were spiritually blind. (Perhaps that is why the incident with blind Bartemaeus was placed next in the Jesus Story.)
-And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." Jesus had previously taught that at the end of time, the Son of man (Jesus) would come in glory. Mark 8:38, “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Jesus later taught in Mark 13:26, “Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.”
Here the truth comes out. James and John wanted glory. They wanted power, status, and authority. These two disciples, who were to become the leaders of the church, still didn’t “get it” about what Jesus was teaching that the Son of man would suffer, be killed and on the third day rise from the dead. James and John had visions of themselves in the future: one at the right hand of Jesus in glory; one at the left hand of Jesus in glory.
That is often true of us as well. That is, we can be baptized, grow up in the church, be religious and mouth all the right “Jesus words” and still not “get it” that we, too, are called to follow the path of Jesus and his humiliation and suffering.
Obviously, James and John still didn’t “get it.” James and John, after being commissioned as two of the twelve disciples, after spending time with Jesus, after following Jesus and after seeing the 5,000 fed, Jesus walking on/by the water, the Transfiguration, and several healings, they still didn’t “get it.”
Even after arguing and discussing with the other disciples about who was the greatest and even after hearing Jesus’ lessons about humility, becoming like children, “being the least of these is the greatest,” and “being a servant,” they STILL didn’t “get it.” Jesus had told them all these important teachings before, in Chapter 9, right after the Transfiguration, but they STILL didn’t “get it.”
We are the same many centuries later.
-But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. James and John thought they were simply asking for power, glory and authority, but they did not realize that the way to glory in the Christian faith is by the way of the cross, suffering and death. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross and had taught them three times about the cross and suffering but they still didn’t “get it.”
In the next gospel story, we are going to hear about “blind Bartimaes.” In this story, the two disciples are blind about the inevitability of suffering and the cross which they are called to bear.
-Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and his death on the cross. He was going to drink the cup of crucifixion and death. Jesus was going to be baptized into physical death.
In Mark, “the cup” is a symbol of suffering such as Jesus’ teachings in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14:36, “He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."
-They replied, "We are able." Foolishly and optimistically, James and John still didn’t understand what Jesus had said that he was go suffer, be rejected and died on the cross.
-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; Jesus then prophecies that they too would suffer and be killed, just as he was going to experience soon in Jerusalem.
In Acts 12:1-2, we hear that James was martyred by Herod, “About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.”
We don’t know how the Apostle John died. Perhaps of old age in Ephesus.
Jesus must have been aware that the disciples did not comprehend his earlier teaching that his disciples must pick up their crosses and lose their lives in order to follow him. From Mark 8:34ff, “34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
The disciples didn’t “get it” that they were going to pick up their crosses and lose their lives, even though Jesus had spoken these words to them earlier.
-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." Jesus had been prepared by God to sit at God’s right hand. That was not the destiny of the disciples.
-When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. The other ten disciples got mad at James and John.
In an earlier story , after the "mountain top experience" on the Mount of Transfiguration, perhaps it was James and John who were thinking of themselves as being the "biggest bigshots" of the twelve disciples. As a pastoral Biblical scholar, thinking back on the previous incident when the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom of God, perhaps it was only James and John who thought that they were the “greatest.” And not Peter. Perhaps the event of experiencing the Transfiguration went only “to the heads” of James and John and not Peter. The same pattern of "thinking we are the greatest" is again true in this incident that we are studying.
-So 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. Jesus knew the hearts and heads of secular rulers. Secular rulers often and usually “lord it over” the common folks. The “great rulers” are often tyrants at the core.
As modern people, we have witnessed this truth again and again in our own history; that many of the rulers of nations have proven to be no more than tyrants. Mean, malicious, and malevolent tyrants. I recall as a student in college, I actually had Mao’s Red Book on my shelf, not realizing what a tyrant he was. At that moment, it was “cool” and a mark of intellectual sophistication to have Mao’s wisdom on one’s book shelf. Little did I realize the insane and cruel things that Mao did to the Chinese people during his time of being China’s leader.
Yes, Jesus’ teaching is true: the “great rulers” are often no more than tyrants.
-But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, Instead, Jesus teaches his disciples again about what it means to be great. What it means to be great in the kingdom of God where Jesus rules a person’s life is to be a servant. We underscore, “You MUST be a servant.”
The sermon for the day is to focus on that central theme of being a servant. Being a servant is a MUST, a demand, like water being wet and fire being hot and ice being cold. So a follower of Christ MUST be a servant.
If water is not wet, it is not water.
If fire is not hot, it is not fire.
If ice is not cold, it is not ice.
If a follower of Christ is not a servant, he or she is not a disciple.
Primarily and simply, a servant serves others.
-and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. Underline the words, “of all.” The followers of Christ are to be servants “of all.” Not just servants of their family, friends, loved ones, fellow Christians, members of the church. In Mark’s gospel, we are invited to be servants of all people. Neither the gospels of Matthew nor Luke include the important words, “of all.”
-For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." Jesus came not be served but to serve the needs of others. He came to give his life as a ransom for others. Jesus became the model of a servant life, a life which was lived in order to give it away in service to others.
The focus on this sermon needs to be on the word, “servant.”
Other than the similar teachings in Mark 9:33ff and Mark 10:35ff, there are numerous other Bible verses which inform us about being a servant:
Lu 1:38 - Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Lu 1:48 - for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
Joh 12:26 - Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Ac 3:13 - The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.
Ac 3:26 - When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
Ac 4:27 - For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed,
Ac 4:30 - while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
Ro 1:1 - Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Ro 15:8 - For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
Ga 1:10 - Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Eph 3:7 - Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.
Col 1:7 - This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,
Col 1:23 - provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel
Col 1:25 - I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
Col 4:7 - Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord.
Col 4:12 - Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills.
1Ti 4:6 - If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed.
2Ti 2:24 - And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient,
Tit 1:1 - Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness,
Jas 1:1 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
2Pe 1:1 -Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
Jude 1:1 - Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:
Re 1:1 - The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Re 15:3 - And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: "Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations!
Re 19:10 - Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
Re 22:9 - but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"
1Co 3:9 - For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building.
1Co 4:1 - Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries.
2Co 6:4 - but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
Php 1:1 - Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
1Pe 2:16 - As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.
Re 19:2 - for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants."
Re 19:5 - And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great."
Re 22:3 - Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him;
Re 22:6 - And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place."
1Co 7:22 - For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.
1Co 9:19 - For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.
Ga 3:28 - There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Ga 4:7 - So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Php 2:7 - but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form.
Back to the gospel text for Pentecost 20B. Yes, a sermon for Pentecost 20B, if that sermon is textually faithful, needs focus on Jesus' invitation to be a servant.
But the text continues:
This is the only place in the four gospels that the word, “ransom,” is used. The word is also used in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human who gave himself a ransom for all —this was attested at the right time.”
There are sixteen uses of the word, “ransom,” in the Old Testament. The word means “payment.”
For example, in Exodus 30:16, “You shall take the atonement money from the Israelites and shall designate it for the service of the tent of meeting; before the Lord it will be a reminder to the Israelites of the ransom given for your lives.
Ps 49:7 - Truly, no ransom avails for one's life, there is no price one can give to God for it.
Ps 49:8 - For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice,
Ps 49:15 - But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. (Selah)
Ho 13:14 -Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
When all is said and done, Jesus ransoms the whole world from the power of Sheol.
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