Sunday, 30th May 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Whate’er my God ordains is right

Whate’er my God ordains is right,

His holy will abideth;

I will be still whate’er He does,

And follow where He guideth.

He is my God, though dark my road;

He holds me that I shall not fall;

And so to Him I leave it all,

And so to Him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right,

He never will deceive me;

He leads me by the proper path,

I know He will not leave me.

I take, content, what He has sent;

His hand can turn my griefs away;

And patiently I wait His day,

And patiently I wait His day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right,

Though now this cup in drinking

May bitter seem to my faint heart,

I take it all, unshrinking.

My God is true, each morn anew

Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart;

And pain and sorrow shall depart,

And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right,

Here shall my stand be taken;

Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,

Yet I am not forsaken.

My Father’s care is round me there;

He holds me that I shall not fall;

And so to Him I leave it all,

And so to Him I leave it all.

Words: Samuel Rodigast (1675), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878)

Music: Matt Merker & Keith Getty

PRAYER

READING MATTHEW 20: 17-28

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

A Mother’s Request

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

SERMON SERVICE – THE MARK OF GREATNESS

What could be more natural than a mother wanting her children to get on in the world? And so, along comes the mum of James and John and asks a favour of Jesus. You might think this very bold of her, but many of the scholars reckon that this lady was actually Salome, the sister of Mary – in other words – Jesus’ AUNTIE!

Yet, I believe there is a warning here for all parents. How often do the caring parents, with the best will in the world, with the best of intentions, MEDDLE in their children’s affairs – and how often does it end in disaster? !

“Jesus, when you become King, let my boys be your chief counsellors“. But, if James and John were Jesus’ cousins, was it SO much to ask?

If we can perhaps excuse a loving mother, it is harder to excuse the 2 disciples themselves. Jesus turns and answers THEM – not their mother – how COULD they seek to be elevated above their friends of the last 3 years.

Here is a team of 12 men who have eaten and worked and lived with each other for 36 months – and now two of them are looking for special privileges with Jesus – it is unthinkable – but it happened!

After all that time of working with and listening to the Son of God, these two close friends of His still missed the whole point of Jesus’s teaching.

What had Jesus been saying to them all along? At the start of chapter 18 He was telling them that the mark of greatness in His Kingdom was HUMILITY !

In chapter 19 Jesus had been teaching them that the kingdom of God belongs to those who become like little children!

Well, in a sense, these two were behaving like naughty children.

Later on in chapter 19 – at verse 21, Jesus told them that the mark of being a follower of His was to DENY oneself – the Christian life is one of GIVING – NOT of getting.

Were they blind, or deaf, or stupid or all three?

The simple lesson of Jesus was that true greatness is not to be found in sovereignty, but rather in SERVICE.

After 2000 years of Jesus message being proclaimed – this message of self-denial still has so few followers.

The others are every bit as bad. When they discover what the sons of Zebidee had been asking for – they were jumping mad!

HOWEVER – If the 12 Apostles could get it SO WRONG, then it lifts my spirits when I know I get it so wrong so often.

But I am also encouraged by Jesus’ handling of those wayward men. He simply asks them if they are prepared to suffer as He is going to.

In Acts 12:2 we read that James was put to death for His faith in Jesus: in Rev.1:9 we read that John was encarcerated for the latter part of his life on the island of Patmos. So they DID suffer – just as Jesus promised.

To the other 10 disciples He said: If you want to be really something, then you have to become nothing.

1 John 3:16 “Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

The sermon is entitled – Service – the mark of greatness. I was looking back in my records and discovered that the last time I preached on this passage was exactly 13 years ago and at that service we were presenting Bob Macibtyre with a Long Service Certificate for 50 years, serving God as an elder in His Church. I guess that makes it around 63 years of faithful service as an elder today. The mark of greatness, in God’s eyes, is not power or popularity or position – but SERVICE – serving Him and serving one another.

As we close, I want you to forget about other folks around you for a moment – examine your OWN soul – what deaths must YOU die before you will be on Jesus’ pathway ? Let’s take courage, then, that Christ is here to help us – let’s trust Him – and step out with Him.

PRAYER

Hymn Thy way, not mine, O Lord

1 Thy way, not mine, O Lord,

however dark it be;

lead me by thine own hand,

choose out the path for me.

2 Smooth let it be or rough,

it will be still the best;

winding or straight, it leads

right onward to thy rest.

3 I dare not choose my lot;

I would not if I might;

choose thou for me, my God,

so shall I walk aright.

4 Take thou my cup, and it

with joy or sorrow fill,

as best to thee may seem;

choose thou my good or ill.

5 Choose, Lord, for me my friends,

my sickness or my health;

choose thou my cares for me,

my poverty or wealth.

6 Not mine, not mine the choice,

in things both great and small;

be thou my Guide, my Strength,

my Wisdom, and my All.

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Benediction

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