Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Mathew 1:17
Mathew 1: 18-25 Mathew 2: 1-23 Mathew 3: 1-17 Mathew 4: 1-11 Mathew 4: 12-25
Matthew 5:1-12 Part 1 Matthew 5:1-12 Part 2 Mathew 5:13-16 Mathew 5:17-26 Mathew 5:27-37 Mathew 5:38-48
Mathew 6:1-8, 16-18 Mathew 6: 7-15 Mathew 6:19-34 Mathew 6:25-34 Mathew 7:1-12 Mathew 7:15-23
Mathew 7: 24-29 Mathew 8: 1-17 Mathew 8: 18-34 Mathew 9: 1-13 Mathew 9:14-26 Mathew 9:27 - 10:31
Mathew 10:32-42 Mathew 11:1-31 Mathew 12:1-21 Mathew 12:22-50 Mathew 13:1-23 Mathew 13: 24-43
Mathew 13: 44-52 Mathew 13:54 -14:12 Mathew 14:13-21 Mathew 14:22-36 Mathew 15:1-20 Mathew 15:21-31
Mathew 15: 32-39 Mathew 16:13-23 Matthew 16:24-28 Matthew 17:1-13 Matthew 17:14-27 Matthew 18:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20 Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:13-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Matthew 20:17-34
Matthew 21: 1-11 Matthew 21:12-17 Matthew 21:18-22 Matthew 21:23-46 Matthew 22:1-14 Matthew 22:15-46
Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 24:1-31 Matthew 24:32-44 Matthew 25:1-46 Matthew 26:1-13 Matthew 26:14-54
Matthew 26: 54-75 Matthew 27:1-26 Matthew 27:27-66 Matthew 28:1-20    
           

 

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Matthew 20:17-34

 

“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him:  and the third day he shall rise again.  Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.  And he said unto her, What wilt thou?  She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.  But Jesus answered and said, ‘Ye know not what ye ask.  Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?  They say unto him, We are able.  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:  but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.  And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you:  but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.  And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace:  but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.  And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?  They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.  So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes:  and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”

 

The Fruit of Selfish Ambition is Division

 

“Good morning.  Turn in your Bibles if you would, to Matthew chapter 20, as we pick up in verse 17.  And that’s where we left off last week…Matthew chapter 20, you know it’s just kind of a thread here, just goes through the passages we’ve been looking at for awhile here in Matthew about just the heart of true greatness, and the heart of a servant.  And let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll pick up with verse 17.  ‘Thank you Lord, as we once more come together, Lord, even on a snowy slippery day, Lord.  Thanks for getting the folks out and getting here safely.  And guess would even pray if there’s anybody still slipping and sliding trying to get here, I pray you’d get them here, Lord, with no problems.  Thank you Lord that we can study your Word. Some maybe at home today, listening through the Radio because of the weather.  Just all of our hearts now, focus us now upon what you would say to us as your children, as believers…Open our eyes and minds through your Holy Spirit.  You tell us about what it is to be truly great, and what it is to be a servant, and just the things that we struggle with yet in our own hearts, from selfishness, ambition and just the messes that it makes, and it’s just harmful in the end.  But yet Lord, use this time as we go through your Word to more and more give us your heart, that heart of love for you, and love for others.  Make us greater servants even as we go through this passage, as we hear your Word…in Jesus name, amen.’

 

The Disciples Are Just Not Getting It

 

Chapter 20, verses 17-19, “Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify.  And the third day he will rise again.’”  So it’s the last track, the last road to travel for Jesus, as you’ve been reminded.  Last few weeks he’s on that trip, that last trip from Galilee up to Jerusalem, where he’s going to be crucified.  Now in those days, and certainly it’s true today, it’s not uncommon to say when you’re going to Jerusalem, ‘You’re going up to Jerusalem’, and that’s because Jerusalem sits upon a mountain, up on a hill, and everything around it in that area is below it.  So when you travel to Jerusalem, you do travel up to Jerusalem.  And that’s what they’re doing, verse 17, they’re going ‘up to Jerusalem.’  Of course, to go on an Israel trip now, and go up to Jerusalem is quite a powerful experience when you travel to that city.  If you’re a Christian and know a lot about the Bible, it can be a powerful experience.  Even just what’s going on as you travel up there, on some of the roads they’ve left some of the military vehicles that were blown apart during the Six Day War, when the Israeli nation took over Jerusalem [in 1967], for the first time since AD 70, nearly 1900 years later, where Jerusalem was once again part of the nation of Israel [once again part of the nation of Judah].  And so they’ve left cars, and just painted them, military vehicles along the road as you drive up, just remnants from that battle, the ’67 War there.  Well, I remember going up, first time I went up it was quite an experience.  I was just thinking about the whole deal, what is awaiting.  You know, when we do Israel trips, the last part of the trip is when we go to Jerusalem, we save that for last, the last couple days.  So here I am on this nice comfy bus, you know, tour bus with other folks, Christians, it’s air-conditioned, listening to praise music, you know, Messianic praise music, and looking at the vehicles blown up, and then thinking about just Jerusalem, seeing Golgotha, seeing the Garden Tomb, seeing the Temple Mount, all these areas, just the anticipation of it.  But as we were driving up, at the same time, here I am a tourist in a tour bus, I was thinking about it, I remember the first time, thinking about Jesus’ last trip up there, the trip we read about here, and what a difference.  I go today as a Christian today on a tour bus, but that’s not quite what his trip was like this particular time.  In these verses, we don’t necessarily pick up on it here, but in other Gospels that give us this account, Mark especially, and then in Luke, there is a mood to what’s going on at this particular time.  There’s a feeling to the moment.  Chapter 10 of Mark, verse 32 gives us the detail.  “And Jesus was going before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed they were afraid.”  So we read in Mark that the disciples, as they were traveling with Jesus at this particular time, they were afraid, there’s something heavy about Jesus, there was something to him.  He was walking before them, they just sensed the heaviness, something they didn’t quite completely understand, but it made them afraid.  There was a disposition that he had, there was something about it that was unnerving to them.  So Jesus goes up this last time, Luke chapter 9, verse 51, probably a little bit earlier in the trip to Jerusalem, this last trip, but it describes his manner as “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  So that stedfastness, he knows where he’s going, he’s a man.  He knows what’s awaiting him.  So at this time, as he gathers the disciples around him, as you read there, to explain what he does in verses 18 and 19, there is something to him at that point.  He’s obviously thinking about it.  It’s troubling to the disciples to even see him, and the way he is.  Well I’m sure as they were picking up on what he’s going through, he gathers them around him and he uses the opportunity to tell them what’s soon going to happen, we’re within days of the crucifixion, a couple weeks at most, it’s just around the corner.  Of course they knew him as the Messiah, they’re expecting one thing, what they’re expecting is quite different then what’s about to happen.  [Comment:  The Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah were quite confusing to the Jews, because the prophecies about the Messiah’s first coming were mixed in together with the prophecies of his glorious and powerful 2nd coming, often times right within the same prophecy.  Take Isaiah 11 for example, the first three verses are about Jesus Christ’s 1st coming, while the rest of the chapter is about his glorious and powerful 2nd coming.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_2.htm  to see a full treatment of this interesting fact.]  So he wants to help them understand.  I’m sure if you were there in that group of disciples that are with him, as he began to talk to the disciples, I’m sure you’d see there was an intensity at this moment to him, there was a passion to him.  I mean, if you looked at his eyes, there was something. They’re trying to discern, he’s really intense as he’s talking about the whole deal.  But, I would imagine too, there’s a little bit of frustration, as Jesus shares.  Because, for various reasons, they’re not connecting.  Again he shares this, it’s the third time, but they’re not connecting.  They’re not understanding.  It’s pretty simple what he says, but yet it just seems like as he says it, and as we go on we’ll just see it’s like it never registered.  It never connected with them.  And it seems to be difficult for them to reconcile, and I guess part of the difficulty is it’s over their heads in a way.  Even though it’s real simple, they’ve got certain expectations, and this is just so outside of what they expect, it’s kind of over their heads.  It’s kind of like sometimes with your children, I know I’ve had this experience, my wife and I with our kids.  There will be something intense going down, something heavy, you know.  Maybe it’s related to our family, maybe it’s related to something in the church, a family in the church.  So we’re in the midst of this, so it’s a little heavy for us, we’re working through it.  [Like the wife of a very close friend in the church just died, a real-life example.]  But the kids, in the midst of that, they can come up and ask a request, or ask a favor that’s so far out of where we’re at right now, this is just, you know, ‘Play-Station and what we’re doing right now are not on the same level, wanting to watch a video on Donut Man, this is not where we’re at!’.  You know what I’m saying?  But they’re kids.  And at times we’ve been in the car and something’s going on, and we’re trying to explain it to them, and they’re not relating, and we’re doing our best, kid talk, appropriate, to bring them up to speed, ‘This is kind of serious right now’, and sometimes they just won’t connect.  They’re kids, you know.  So there can be a little bit of that frustration.  I think Jesus has a little bit of that, because as he shares, I mean, this is where he’s going, it’s just around the corner.  He tells them pretty plainly, verse 18, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem…”  In Luke 18, verse 31, when he says what he does, there’s another comment that he makes, he says, “And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man will be accomplished.”  So, we’re going up to Jerusalem, the prophecies from long ago are about to be fulfilled.’  Now what are the prophecies that are about to be fulfilled?  We see what they are right here as he explains.  “The Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify him.”  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm for a full treatment of those prophecies.]  Now, interesting, the betrayer, he’s going to be betrayed, now he’s got the 12 in front of him, so as he’s explaining this, I wonder if he makes eye-contact with Judas?  He’s speaking of his betrayal, and the betrayer is right there in front of him at this time.  He’s part of the crowd.  I wonder if they make eye-contact, I wonder if Jesus looks at him as he says what he does, maybe to stir his heart a little bit?  Jesus continues, and he says, “they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify.”  Mark says too, “to spit”, Jesus evidently says “to spit”, and in Luke 18:32 he also said “to insult”, he said they’re going to do all kinds of things to him.  And these are things that the disciples didn’t understand, never even imagined, even though it was in the Old Testament, they didn’t imagine it would happen to the Messiah.  Then he says the exact words as you have in verse 19, “and to crucify”, that he’d be crucified.  Now up to this point, we noted in Matthew 16, verse 21 and, and also in Matthew 17:22, like two times on two occasions Jesus stops, and begins to explain, as he gets to the latter part of the time here, ‘This is what’s going down, this is where we are going, this is what’s going to happen, they’re going to kill me’, that’s what he says, he says it multiple times.  This is the first time, though, he mentions specifically how, and that is that he’s going to be crucified.  He’s not mentioned that before.  He spoke of the cross, he’s talked about, ‘Hey, if you’re going to follow me, pick up your cross, follow me.’  He spoke of the cross, but he’s never said directly ‘I am going to be crucified.’  This is the first time.  He says they will crucify him.  And just of course, crucifixion, the most horrible form of execution, the Romans used this most horrible form of death, it was the worst of the worst way to die.  Crucifixion was tops when it came to punishment.  So now he’s sharing, this is the way it’s going to happen.  So he’s sharing, ‘This is the cross, this is where I’m going, I’m going to the cross.’  The reality of the cross, that’s what he’s sharing with them.  So, there’s a sense of heaviness, I’m sure there’s a sense of dread as he’s talking about these things.  Speaking of the future, again he knows the future, he knows exactly the events that are about to happen.  That’s because he’s the Son of God [and before that, he was Yahweh, the great I AM, cf. John 8:58-59; Exodus 3:13-15].  He knows why he’s come, he knows what his purpose is, he knows what he’s here to accomplish, he’s to go to the cross.  So he’s willingly going up the road to Jerusalem, knowing what’s there.  So at the same time, he also has everything under his control.  I mean, he’s going there knowing what’s going to happen, he’s really the one ultimately that’s in charge of all events.  When we go on, at times it seems the religious leaders are the one’s in charge, or Pilate, or the Roman government.  But we’ll note as we go, I mean, clearly, the one who is really in control of the moment is Jesus himself.  He is.  And he speaks of the future because he knows the future, and he’s going willingly, because that’s why he’s come, to go to the cross.

 

Selfish ambition surfaces in James, John and their mother, Salome

 

You’ll see now the disciples, it’s like he mentions it, and it’s like it never hit them, they just move on.  Verses 20-28, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from him.  And he said to her, ‘What do you wish?’  She said to him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left, in your kingdom.’  But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’  They said to him, ‘We are able.’  So he said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by my Father.’  And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.  But Jesus called them to himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave---just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”  So, Matthew describes the mother of Zebedee’s sons, she comes now to Jesus seeking a favor.  The sons of Zebedee would be James and John, the Sons of Thunder.  And putting various Scriptures together, especially the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke, at the tomb, after the resurrection, it would seem, putting it together, good guess, that her name is Salome, that’s what many people conjecture.  She’s actually Salome.  And so, she’s also then it seems, the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  So, that would mean James and John are actually related to Jesus, they’re his cousins.  That’s what most conjecture, it seems to be a good deduction.  Well, that’s possibly why she’s coming and asking what she’s asking.  James and John are related then to Jesus.  And a little while ago, you know, Jesus spoke about thrones and about his kingdom, and so hey, she’s thinking, this is kind of a nepotism thing, you know, ‘We’re related to you.  This is family, come on Jesus, you’re going to establish your kingdom, family, hey come on, you’ve got cousins here, cousin James and cousin John, come on, take care of them, when you get there, remember family.’  It’s very possible that’s what’s going on, you know, that sense of deserving special treatment.  And of course that goes on in the world today, no doubt. Mark, when Mark tells the story, he never mentions the mom.  He just mentions James and John.  And so putting them together, you have the mom, you have James and John, they’re very much together on this whole deal.  Was one influencing more than the other, was mom trying to bring the boys along.  It would seem, maybe it’s the boys saying, ‘You’re his aunt, come on, help us out here, mom, go talk to Jesus and see what you can do here, help us out, make sure we’re taken care of…’  So, Mark doesn’t even mention the mother, he just mentions them.  She kneels down as Matthew describes, King James has it as worshipping the Lord, and she seeks a certain favor.  Now, Mark has, at that point, in putting together the other Gospels, she must do that, and the two sons pipe right in with, this is the request that they give, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”  Now that’s always a loaded question.  And you’re foolish if you just respond to that and say ‘Oh sure, no problem, whatever you ask.’  Kids will try to pull that one on a parent, and it doesn’t take too long to learn as a parent that you kind of do a little bit more digging, and a little bit more investigating before you actually answer a request like that.  But ‘Do whatever we ask’, loaded question.  Verse 21, “And he said to her, ‘What do you wish?’  She said to him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.’”  Now given what Jesus explained, look back to Matthew chapter 19, verse 28, it seems that they kind of missed the whole thing about the cross (he just told them about!), but they’re trying to focus a little bit back, because he made the statement, it would seem that these passages probably flow sequentially, tying right together.  Verse 28, Jesus said, Peter, you remember he replied to a statement by Peter, he said, “Assuredly I say to you that in the regeneration, when the Son of man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  So, he says, ‘You twelve,’ twelve disciples, including James and John, ‘you are going to sit on 12 thrones, as I am in my kingdom, and you’re going to judge the nation of Israel with me.’  So, based on that, they heard that, but they didn’t hear the parable of the workers of the vineyard inbetween, they heard it, but it just went in one ear and out the other, and the cross, you know, crucifixion, doesn’t really connect, they’re still on this crown, throne thing, they want to know, they want to make sure, they want the crown [for all the wrong reasons, they’re still not spiritually mature, not by a longshot].  ‘Can we sit on those special thrones, next to you?’  So they’re looking for a crown, desiring position, desiring privilege, prestige, they want to be in a place, seen in a place above others, other men.  Now, you look, and we can see the carnality, we can look in a critical sense, but we should note, there is faith here.  Jesus said they were going to be on thrones, they now are seeking a special place. So they believed what he said, they really did believe, they’re here petitioning, ‘We want to be on your right and on your left.’  So they do believe that he’s the Messiah, they believe in the things that he said, they believe what he said about his kingdom, and about the thrones.  Yet there’s certainly a carnal motive here.  And like most men, they’re looking for preeminence, they’re looking for popularity, they’re looking for position, prestige.  But they haven’t understood.  [Comment:  They’re only believers in the physical sense at this point.  They are not spiritually converted, they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they are converted only in the physical facts of Jesus’ Messiahship.  They are yet still carnal, with selfish ambitions for power and authority.  That is their constant question ‘Who is the greatest?’, and their constant quest, to be the greatest in the kingdom. Such people can and do end up being tares within the Body of Christ, within the churches, and often times in leadership positions, due to their driving selfish ambitions.  Converted in knowledge does not necessarily equate to spiritual conversion where the Holy Spirit indwells a person.  Paul cautions believers about this in 2nd Corinthians 13:5.]  Jesus went to great lengths explaining to them the first will be last, and the last will be first, explaining the whole principle of the kingdom of God, and that the kingdom of God is a thing of grace, just to be in his kingdom is a thing of divine favor from God.  I mean, just to be part of it, just to have ministry, is divine favor from God.  And who cares, you know, if somebody has this position, or that, just to be there, the grace of God.  And they missed the whole point.  And then as he even talked about where they’re heading, they’re missing it.  You know, we don’t determine our value based on my relationship above or below somebody else, I don’t look there, I’m to look to him, just to be blown away by his grace.  It’s not sinking in, so they miss the cross, and go right to the crown. 

 

The Principle of “the Cup”---the Cup of the World verses the Cup of the Lord

 

But Jesus then responds as he does in verse 22 with the cup, as you see.  He says, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking for, you just don’t understand.  You don’t understand what this is all about.  Are you able to drink the cup that I’m about to drink?  Are you able to be baptized with the baptism that I’m to be baptized with?’  I mean, they are clueless, clueless.  He brings up the aspect of the cup to show them that what they’re asking for, they’re completely ignorant of what they’re asking for.  They don’t even know what this means, the cost, the path there.  So he comes with this cup.  Now, it is true, I mean he’s talking to men, and the way they respond, men will pay a high price for a position, people will pay a high price for popularity.  You look in our world today, there are people that have laid down their lives for certain positions in society, there are people who have sold their soul to the Devil so that they could be seen in a special way in society, and can be seen as a person of privilege and position.  I mean, there are people that have adulterated themselves, just sold themselves completely, in order to gain some position in society.  People will pay a high price for position, no doubt about it.  In a sense, they’ll drink a cup in order to get there.  But, of course, they drink this “cup of the world,” and what they get in the end, in the end isn’t a whole lot.  In the end it wasn’t even worth it.  You know, they drank the poison to get there, and then they get there, and they find out ‘Hard drink to get here, but boy, why did I do all that for this?’.  Jesus is speaking of a cup, and of course what comes with this sort of cup is not like that.  I mean, when you take this cup he’s talking about here, the result of that, in the end, of course, he’s going down a path, and he’s going to a Throne, because he’s coming from heaven, he’s come to the earth, he’s denying himself, and he’s become a man, put aside his glory, and he’s going to die on the cross and shed his blood, and of course, he’s going to be exalted to a place where every knee shall bow and his name is going to be so highly exalted, as we read in Philippians.  But there are people who are willing to pay a high price for position.  Sometimes it’s pretty sad to think of what they’re paying for.  Not willing necessarily pay the price for the kingdom of God, but willing to pay the price in the world for things and positions in the world.  I was listening to a song the other day, and thinking about this principle here, men and women, these people want a position here, these men around Jesus, and they’re not understanding what they’re asking for, and of course they’ve got a carnal motive to it.  They think of it in a carnal way, and it’s amazing what people will pay to get position and to get privilege.  I was listening to a song, and I was thinking about the radio work that we’re doing and the radio stations that we’re building, and I remember back in San Diego, I was having an experience like I did years ago.  I was back in San Diego working a regular job, and God just began to stir in my mind, called me to the capital city of this state, and one of the things that he really began to put on my heart was radio, I never expected that.  One day I was listening to a song by Rich Mullins, and I remember listening to it, and I started to think about radio in our state capital, and a lot of you guys know that.  I started to think about that, and don’t you know, applying to the internship there at the church, for pastoral training, I told them my vision is to go and assist radio in New England any way I can.  And so I laid out my vision statement, and don’t you know, the Lord provided our local AM radio station here, it was donated when we moved here.  And I used to tell people, ‘You know, I am just really burdened for radio’, it was just a God-thing, I never expected that.  So anyway, I was listening to a song, and some of us in the radio ministry were meeting this week and talking about the music format, so I’m listening to songs, you know, ‘This would be a good song for these FM’s as we get them on the air.’  But then I was listening to a group called Casting Crowns, I know a lot of you guys know the group.  But this song came on, and I was thinking, we were talking about how all our songs should be vertical, worship, that’s really the format that we’re gonna have.  But then I heard this song, and I was like, ‘This would be great to play on the radio’, and I was daydreaming like I used to do in San Diego, I was daydreaming again, thinking about ‘Boy I could just see it in the capital city of our state, and the average person tuning in and listening to these types of lyrics’, because so many people are trying to get position in life, and the cost is so great.  Well here’s the words, I’ll just read it to you, but it stirred my mind, maybe you know this song: 

“All work, no play may have made Jack a dull boy, All work, no God, has left Jack with a lost soul, But he’s moving on full steam, he’s chasing the American Dream, He’s gonna give his family the finer things, Not this time son, I’ve got no time to waste, Maybe tomorrow we’ll have time to play, And he slips into his new BMW, and drives farther and farther and farther away, Cause he works all day and tries to sleep at night, He says things will get better and better in time, So he works and builds with his own two hands, and he pours all he has into a life made with sand,  The wind and the rain are coming, crashing in, time will tell just how long his kingdom stands. Well this American Dream is beginning to seem more like a nightmare, Daddy will you come to my game?  Oh Baby, please don’t work late, another wasted weekend and they’re slipping away, cause he works all day and lies awake at night, tells them things will get better, it’s just gonna take a little bit more time, so he works and he builds with his own two hands, and he pours all he has in a past all made with sand. But the wind and rain are coming, crashing in, time will tell, just how long his kingdom will stand.  Used to say ‘whoever died with the most toys wins’, but if he loses his own soul, what does he gain in the end?  I’ll take a shack on a rock over a castle on the sand, Now he works all day and cries at night, it’s not getting any better, it looks like he’s running out of time.”

But you know, I was thinking of that, and the price people pay to get what they’re looking for in this world, and the cup they’re willing to drink, and Jesus speaks of a cup here.  You know, there is a cup, I mean, he said to people that were to follow him, ‘Follow me, pick up your cross”, there is a cup and a cross too in following the Lord.  I can choose the way of the world, and I can drink that cup to get this or that position, or whatever.  Or I can choose to go and follow the way of the Lord, and at times it appears like a cross, a cup.  You know, I can look at it and go, ‘Man, that isn’t easy, boy, to do that Lord, that’s gonna be a sacrifice.’  But you know, it’s sad there are a lot of believers that are drinking the cup of the world.  They come to church, and they love the Lord, and yet, man, they’re making all sorts of sacrifices for things of the world, they’re just living for the world, they’re just living for the world.  And they’re believers.  And they’re kind of turned off by the cup that Christ is offering.  And there is a cup to being a Christian too, but I tell you, man, to follow the Lord, to pick up the cross, in the end, as we’ve noted so many times, in the end you find it’s so worth it.  Any cost is really no cost at all in comparison to what you get in the end, and that is eternal life, that is reward and blessing and just knowing the Lord and walking with the Lord throughout eternity.  Well these guys, they’re thinking of it another way, in the human way. But he says, ‘There’s a cup.  And do you understand what it means, what you’re asking for?  You don’t understand what you’re asking for.’  They say, though, “We are able”, you know, they have the ‘Peter syndrome’, just like Peter did earlier, he was confident that, ‘Hey, Lord, whatever it takes.’  But he found out that he wasn’t quite as strong as he thought he was.  You know that word “cup” there, in the Bible, the word “cup” is often a metaphor, it’s a metaphor for suffering.  In the Old Testament we see it many times too, and in the case of the Old Testament the cup is seen especially as the wrath of God upon men, multiple times, Jeremiah 25, Isaiah 51, Ezekiel 23 speaks of the wrath of God as a cup being poured out upon man.  When Jesus speaks of the cup that he drinks, that cup he drinks includes the wrath of God, the Father, that’s going to be poured out as he goes to the cross.  So, he says ‘Do you know what you’re asking for?’.  And they say, ‘Yeah, we’re able.’  “So He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I’m baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it is for those to whom it is prepared by my Father’”  (verse23).  He says, ‘You will drink the cup.’  Interesting, we know historically, and of course we’ll get there, next book we’ll look at is Acts chapter 12, verse 2, we know that James, it says there he was beheaded by the sword.  So he was the first martyr in the Church, the first martyr as far as the twelve.  And then John, they tried to kill him, they boiled him in a vat of oil, that’s what history tells us.  We know for sure he was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, this prison on a rock out there in the ocean, and he lived through everything and he died a natural death, but in a sense a martyr.  Didn’t actually die, they tried to kill him.  So you have James, the first martyr, and then John you could say is the last martyr, of the twelve.  So he says, ‘You will indeed drink my cup and be baptized with the baptism that I’m about to be baptized with, you will actually.’  They’re asking, they’re thinking of it in a certain context, they’re looking for the crown, but didn’t really hear much about the cross.  He talks about the cup though, to bring home a point, that they’re going to actually drink that cup.  It’s not going to be easy where they’re going, but they’re not going to regret it.  What the Lord has done through their lives, and the rewards and the eternal life that they have waiting for them. 

 

The Fruit of Selfish Ambition is Division---Where there was one group of twelve, there are now two groups, one of ten, one of two

 

Well, selfishly though, they want this crown, and when you have selfish type of ambition, what you get is what you see in verse 24, “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displease with the two brothers.”   So you get a contention, there’s contention.  They want the crown, and what comes with that type of ambition, with the kind that they have in their heart, you get contention, and you get division.  You’ve got now ten and two, there’s supposed to be twelve, but you read now there’s a group of ten and there’s a group of two.  It says the ten are really angry with their brothers…[tape switchover, some text lost]…it’s that kind of jealousy that, the indignation that’s being shown there.  James and John are maybe using their relationship, and their blood relation to Jesus to their advantage.  So, you get a contention.  And when there’s selfishness and there’s ambition, there’s going to be division, there’s going to be dissention.  That’s the way it happens [that’s the fruit of selfish ambition, the fruit is division.  We have just witnessed it within a certain Sabbatarian Church of God which just divided itself into two.  It was not over doctrinal beliefs, it was over selfish ambition, that was the underlying cause.  Sadly, it is the ordinary members who have to suffer because of the selfish ambition of those elders and ministers over them who caused this rift.  When you see division in a church, 9 times out of 10, it is due to selfish ambition.  Some few times, a group will split off because the old church is getting spiritually weak and insipid, like when the Nazarenes broke off from the Methodists 100 years ago.  But most of the time, when you see division, under the surface, usually hidden away out of people’s sight, is the sin of selfish ambition, and where that is, the Holy Spirit is not.  Interesting, just as I’m transcribing this sermon, this division broke forth within this Sabbatarian Church of God denomination, the United Church of God, which is now “divided.”  See http://unityinchristcom.blogspot.com/search/label/church%20government for the details.]  And in this church here, you know, peace will remain as long as there’s humility, and there’s honesty, and there’s a lack of selfishness.  But when we get divided into camps and as churches often do, when there starts to be this group and that group, and they’re at odds, every time it’s because there’s selfishness, every time it’s because of ambition.  People aren’t really loving one another, people aren’t really being humble, and you end up with division and contention.  And may God protect us, may God work in our lives and hearts so that we notice when there’s honestly selfish ambition, and we know when there’s self-seeking, and we repent of it.  James speaking of that type of heart, and how it certainly destroys any peace, says in James chapter 3, verse 13-17, “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  James 4:1-2, “Where do wars and fights come from among you?  Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have.  You murder and covet and cannot obtain.  You fight and war.  Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”  He says, you know, when there’s the wisdom of God and the heart of God you have peace, you have something that’s willing to yield.  But when there’s self-seeking and ambition, you’ve got confusion, you’ve got war, man, because of the flesh. [Comment:  So we see then that there are two fruits mentioned in James here, the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which is peace, and then you have the fruit of selfishness, self-seeking, ambition, and that fruit is division.  Wherever you see division, know that there is the unholiness of self-seeking and ambition under the surface.  When there is division in a church or denomination, then, according to the Bible, there is self-seeking and selfish ambition amongst the leadership in the church or denomination, more than likely, on both sides of the issue---the selfish fight over membership, which really is all about who is going to get the tithes and offerings.  When that ambition exists, the leaders are no better than hirelings, fighting over their paychecks.  I find it so amazing that I just happened to be transcribing this sermon while the United Church of God is in the process of splitting into two separate denominations for these very reasons, with selfish ambition within it’s leaders the main cause for this breakup that’s taking place as I type these very words.  Here is a living, prime example of what James wrote about, happening right now in the year 2010/2011!]

 

Two Types of Government, Two Types of Rulers

 

Verses 25-28, “But Jesus called them to himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave---just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”  Well the other ten disciples hear about it, they’re really angry now at the two, so Jesus then calls the twelve to him.  And he’s dealing with a heart issue, he uses the opportunity, he’s going to talk to them about what true greatness is all about again.  And in doing that he actually gives a contrast, a contrast, a striking difference between ‘This is the world, and this is my kingdom, this is greatness in the world, and this is greatness in the kingdom of God.’  Very different.  As he says in verse 25, “greatness in the world” is men lording it over men, men seeking to be over men, trying to exercise authority over them, trying to be above them, and that’s what the world does.  [Comment:  The hierarchal form of church government, patterned after the Roman Catholic church, spawns and encourages selfish ambition, and ultimately, it bears the ugly worldly fruit of division.  It’s patterned after “Corporate America” where the head of a church and/or denomination is like a C.E.O. with the plush corner office, and the special parking slot, and can hire and fire at his whim.  If you want to see Jesus’ attitude toward that form of government when it infects parts of his body of believers, in a very humorous movie, watch the movie Office Space, all about “Corporate America.”]  That’s what the world seeks to do.  But he says, ‘But in my kingdom, men are to seek to serve men.  In the world, they’re trying to lord it over you, in my kingdom, greatness is seeking to serve.  And so he says, you know, this is the world, “But may it not be so among you”, verse 26.  It’s interesting, when he says “they exercise authority”, that very word, Paul later, speaking of the kingdom of God to the church in Corinth, 2nd Corinthians chapter 1, verse 24, “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.”  Paul’s speaking to the church, he says, ‘I don’t have dominion over you, I don’t have authority over you, in that sense of lordship’, he says, ‘We’re just fellow workers.’  To Philemon he spoke of, he says, ‘I’m not going to command you, I’m going to come as a friend and try to urge you and appeal to you, in love.’  And then Peter, exhorting Church leaders in 1st Peter chapter 5, verses 1-4 he says, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:  Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”  `So he says, leaders in the Church, don’t try to use your position for selfish gain, don’t do it because you have to, do it because you love people, and go and just love them and serve them and wash their feet, and be examples to them, don’t lord it over them.  So, Jesus says to the disciples here, ‘Listen, guys, I mean, this ambition, you want these places and position, and you don’t even know what you’re asking for, now you’re upset because these two are trying to get it on you’, and he says, ‘Listen, guys, this is the way of the world, this is carnality, but on the other hand this is my kingdom, and my kingdom is this, and that is that you come as a servant.’  When he says “servant” he even uses the word “slave” in verse 27.  If you want to be great, be a slave.  Take the position, man, just love people, who cares if you’re recognized, who cares if you’re noticed, who cares if you’re in a position with a title, and you have the bigger office, or the parking space out in front of the church, who cares?  Just loving, man, serving, washing their feet, that’s greatness.  [Very interesting, the Sabbatarian Churches of God, in their Christian Passover service which they celebrate, have maintained the custom of Jesus’ last Passover meal with the 12 disciples, with a foot-washing ceremony.  And yet, due to maintaining this hierarchal form of church government, these Sabbatarian Churches of God, since 1995, have gone through a myriad number of divisions within their ranks.  I say this out of love, because something must be said, in the hopes that they may spiritually wise up put an end to this nonsense and carnality which has been bearing this ungodly fruit of division amongst these wonderful believers.  Since 1995 there are now about 374 differing Sabbatarian Churches of God denominations, all having origins coming from the Worldwide Church of God.  Take this sermon to heart guys and gals, before it is too late.]  “Whoever desires to be great among you,” verse 26, “let him be your servant.”  Now that word “servant”, King James translates is “minister”, and that’s what a minister is supposed to be.  In our culture today we’ve gotten the sense that a minister is somebody that’s above others, so we give the special parking space, we give the title, we give the special bigger office with the special furniture, and you know, you treat him a certain way.  [That’s corporate America, and what Jesus is saying is that there is no room in the Church, the Body of Christ for “Corporate America.”]  I like Chuck Smith though, Chuck Smith has sought to be an example as a servant leader, and he says, you know, I’ll get picked up at the airport, folks will want to come and pick up my bags, because I’m the pastor, and he says, ‘No way, man, I’ll carry my own bags, I’ll carry your bags.’  The point being, is, ‘I’m not this guy who is looking to be given privilege, I’m here to serve.’  Obviously we can serve one another, you know, it’s not bad to have somebody carry your bags either.  But he says, servant, minister, and that’s what it is. [“minister”, Strongs #1249, diakonos prob. from diako (to run errands); and attendant, a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); spec. a Christian teacher and pastor (techn. a deacon or deaconess):---deacon, minister, servant.”  Personally, due to the high-brow connotation the word “minister” has taken on, due to this infection of corporate America mentality and carnality that has crept into the Church, I prefer to use the term “pastor” for genuine Holy Spirit indwelt church leaders, and “minister” for those who prefer titles, cushy furniture, and the special parking spot.  Want to see what a real pastor is supposed to be like, in shepherding the sheep of the Lord?  Buy and read Phillip Keller’s book “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23”, available on http://www.amazon.com, that’s if you really want to know what a true pastor is.  A good shepherd, in real life, is a slave for his sheep.]  That’s greatness, is to come and to pour out your life, and to give to others. 

 

We Need To Check Our Hearts

 

Now, sometimes in our hearts, the disciples are struggling with the wrong motive, and sometimes we do too.  In the Epistles Paul talks about, it’s not wrong to desire to be a bishop, he says. [“bishop” as used in the King James Bible, merely means a pastor of a church congregation, not a bishop in the sense of the hierarchal structure of the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England].  But then of course, James says, ‘Those that are going to be teachers are judged, understand that if you’re going to be a teacher, you’re going to be judged at a higher standard.  And it’s not wrong to desire to be a missionary or a pastor, or to be a ministry leader, if the heart is right, and for the right reason.  But often we have to check our hearts.  You know Paul talks about the motive of his heart, he says that his heart was moved by the love of Christ.  He says, “the love of Christ constrains me.”  And so Paul, considering the world around him, and people around him, and serving the Lord, it was the love of Christ that moved him.  He loved God, and he wanted to bless people, that was his whole purpose.  I mean, whatever God wanted to do in his life.  He loved them and he wanted to just be a blessing to others.  And so he was moved by the love of God.  These two disciples come with this petition, you can see there’s a prayer, God’s people coming before God, offering up a prayer, and the answer isn’t quite what they expect, it doesn’t go very well.  That’s because the heart isn’t right.  And it’s often the same with you and I.  I come and I want to be used, or I want something of the Lord, and it doesn’t go as I’d hoped, because my heart wasn’t right.  And so we need to check the heart.  And you notice here, the heart that’s in line with the heart of God is the heart of a servant.  And I tell you, the more I become a servant, the more I find that my prayer-life becomes quite powerful and quite effective.  The more I just want to glorify God and just be a servant in his hands, and yeah, I look around and I’m burdened, and I pray for the city and I pray for great ministries and great things.  If my heart really is just, ‘Oh Lord I just want to serve you, and just be a servant, and whatever you want to do’, I find that I can pray for wild and great things and God will actually work, you know, it’s amazing what he’ll do, because my heart is in tune with his.  But if I’m not much of a servant, and my heart really is selfish, and it really is the issue at heart, then I’m gonna find more and more that my prayer-life isn’t quite effective.  If my prayers make me a better servant, then there’s a good indicator that my prayers are going to be effective.  If I can say like Samuel, “Lord, here I am, speak, your servant hears”, you’ll find that God hears, and God responds.  ‘OK, alright.’ 

 

Big Surprise for Salome, mother of James and John

 

Consider Salome here, the mother of James and John.  She’s asking that her boys will be on the right hand and on the left hand of Jesus in his kingdom.  And she’s about to get her eyes opened in a radical way, to what she’s asking for.  She’s got a certain bent to it, and I think she’s going to have the corrected vision here shortly, because she is just days away.  We know in the Gospels that she will be standing there at the cross, she’s noted as one of the ladies there at the cross, Salome.  She’s asked, ‘When you are in your kingdom, as you come into your kingdom, I want my son James to be on one side, and my son John to be at the other.’  And here she stands now at the cross, and Jesus is on the cross, and this is his kingdom, and there is on his left a cross, and there on his right a cross.  Of course they’re thieves, but just imagine as she thinks back to the things that she’s been wanting.  It’s interesting too when she’s standing there, she wants privilege for her sons here, and it’s also interesting when she’s standing at the cross, that Jesus says to her son John, he says, “John, Mary, she’s your mom, Mary, John, he’s your son.”  It’s as if Jesus gives away her [Salome’s] son.  And she doesn’t even have her son in a sense at that point.  It’s amazing, she wants position and privilege for James and John, right hand and left hand, and in a little bit she’s going be standing at the cross, going, ‘I really didn’t know what I was asking for.’  And then she’s going to have a little lesson as Jesus says, ‘John, here’s your mother, Mary.  And Mary, here’s you son, John.’  It’s very interesting, her experience.  She’s days away from that.  You know, the kingdom of God is so different [and he’s talking about the spiritual aspects of the kingdom of God, and what God is training within us, so that we have the attitude of the kingdom of God within us, before we’re ever allowed into that kingdom as spirit-beings in the resurrection to immortality].  It’s laying the life down. 

 

My Life is the Price to set the Slaves Free

 

And so Jesus says there, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave---just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many” (verse 28).  He came to be a minister, not to be ministered to, to serve and be a blessing.  And when it says “to give his life a ransom for many”, there’s a great theological statement there, it’s a tremendous statement in the Greek that’s being made there when he says what he says at that point.  The word translated “ransom” is that sense of paying the price that is paid to set a slave free, you know, there’s a slave and you want to pay the price to set them free, so you pay the ransom.  But here the Greek has a little bit more to it, that word “ransom” litron is there in the Greek, but there’s the word anti before it in this particular time.  And when the word anti is added, the word anti actually literally means “for or instead of.” So when he says “to give his life a ransom” he is literally saying that his life will actually be the price that is paid to set the captive free.  That’s what the Greek, the word, the Greek has more of a flavor to it.  So he is saying, ‘My life, paid price, given so that captives can be set free, the slaves can be set free.’   That’s what’s being said in the Greek.  And of course that’s why he came.  He says, ‘I didn’t come to be served, I came to be the price paid, I’m gonna die for others, so that they could be set free.  And you guys (the disciples) are like all concerned about position, and you want the upper position above others, and boy, you’re missing the point, man.’ 

 

Apparent Inconsistencies in this account explained

 

Well verses 29-34, these last few verses here, “Now as they went out of Jericho a great multitude followed him.  And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’  Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’  So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  They said to him, ‘Lord, that our eyes may be opened.’  So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes.  And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”  Well, as they’re now at Jericho, Jericho’s just down by the Dead Sea, below sea-level, Jerusalem is up quite a ways (altitude-wise), but it’s just a little bit away (distance-wise), and so they’re about to take that steep climb from Jericho up to Jerusalem.  As they’re there, there’s a large multitude, and it’s very likely that a lot of it has to do with the Passover.  We know in just a bit, it’s time for Passover, and the city of Jerusalem normally had about a half-million people in it at this time, history tells us.  But during Passover, there would be millions of people, as many as three million. So there’s a lot of people, there’s a multitude, and I’m sure a lot of it, like on Thanksgiving around here last week or the week before, you know, all the traffic, people going here or there.  That’s what’s happening, lot’s of people coming to Jerusalem.  Well, you have these two men that are healed here from their blindness, and looking at the other Gospels, there’s the same account in Mark 10 and Luke 18, but there’s distinct differences, and the differences are such that some would say that there’s an inconsistency, there’s inaccuracies, or they’re not the same event, one or the other.  And so some of the differences, it says “they went out of Jericho”, in verse 29 here Matthew.  But in Mark, it says specifically “they came to Jericho”, “as they came to Jericho.”  And then in Luke, “as he was coming near Jericho”.  So here it says they go out, and there it says as they’re coming near, it seems to be an inconsistency, it doesn’t seem to be the same.  There’s also the difference, and can it be reconciled, and that is, it says a little bit later that Jesus stood still and had the man come before him, and then it says “he touched him.”  In verse 34 it says “Jesus had compassion and touched his eyes, and he was healed”, and then in the other Gospels it just says “he spoke.”  And so is this the same event?  Another significant difference is there’s two people, blind men here, and then there’s just one in Mark and one in Luke.  And in Mark he’s named Bartimaeus, blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).  So is it the same event?  Or are there inaccuracies?  Is somebody wrong?  Well, can these two stories be reconciled?  There is a way to reconcile them, and that is that in recent years there’s been a discovery that would reconcile the two stories, and that is, they discovered a few years ago, as they were digging around Jericho, they found the ruins of old Jericho going back to the time of Joshua, the city that was destroyed, that was then later rebuilt.  But they also found three miles away, that Herod built another Jericho in this time, there was in this time this huge complex that Herod had built, a kind of winter resort with swimming pools and gymnasiums, a palace that was called Jericho.  Archeologists found there was Herod’s Jericho, they found that, they found this complex, upper Jericho, and lower Jericho, three miles away, the old ancient ruin of Jericho.  So, Luke, we know, his point in writing, he’s writing to the Gentiles.  So it’s likely he would reference the Gentile “Herod Jericho.”  And Matthew is writing to the Jew, we know that, we studied that, he’s writing to the Jewish audience.  And so it’s likely he’d reference the “old Jericho.”  You know, the Jews despised Rome, you know, so he would reference the “old Jericho.”  So it’s very possible at this time, this happens inbetween the two at this point.  They’ve just left the old, and they’re coming near the new or vice versa, they’re inbetween is the point.  They’ve left one and headed to another.  So that’s the way to reconcile, you know, how could you be going out and in at the same time?  Obviously physically it’s impossible, unless there’s two and your inbetween [or you’re dealing with quantum physics at the sub-atomic level].  And how can you reconcile one, it says two blind men, and the other says one.  Well, there is history that says, there are historical accounts, traditions, that say Bartimaeus later became a believer, he was a member of the Church.  And so it would then be very common for him to be focused on, he’s a believer, he’s a guy that people know about.  And when Luke compiles his Gospel and Mark compiles his Gospel, people knew of Bartimaeus, he was a believer in the Church.  And so he was the one that was focused on, and his name is mentioned by Mark.  And so when they mention the believer they focus there, and they don’t mention that there was another man with him that was also healed.  So it’s very easy to reconcile.  Often people say there’s inconsistencies.  But man, often, guys dig in the sand and they find, ‘Well there’s no inconsistencies at all, in fact the Bible was true all along.’ 

 

These Blind Men Weren’t So Blind After All

 

Well these guys cry out, they cry out, they are blind.  But look at what they cry out.  They cry out “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”  They might be physically blind, but their spiritual eyes are opening up here.  And they are in fact a rebuke to the religious leaders.  They can’t see physically, but they’re actually crying out to Jesus and calling him the Messiah, and clearly the way they’re saying it, they really believe he is the Messiah.  They know he’s going by, there’s the multitude, they hear things going on, they discern Jesus is going by, and they cry out “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”  So we have the cry of the blind.  The multitude, verse 31, warns them “be quiet, listen, he doesn’t want to be bothered with you”, and they cry out even louder.  “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”  I mean, they’re just sure it’s the Messiah, ‘If he will just stop and hear me, he’ll heal me.’  I mean, these guys know.  Physically they cannot see, but man, their eyes are opening up, that’s for sure.  And Jesus stops, calls them, and of course with all the procession, he stops, I mean, the camera’s focused right there, ‘What is he gonna do?’  Well what he does, is he calls them, and they come to him.  So the cry of the blind.  He then calls them, calls the blind to come to him, they come to him.  He says “What do you want me to do for you?”  And they say simply, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  ‘Give us our sight, Lord.’  “And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”  Interesting the word that Matthew uses, when he talks about the word “eyes” here, he actually in verse 34, he uses a word that’s unusual for him to use this Greek word in this place, it’s actually a poetic word, and it would be used at times to refer to “the eye of the soul.”  And it seems as if purposely he’s given us a picture here, as a blind man, he comes to Jesus, he’s given his sight, his eyes see, and the point being “the eye of the soul”, there’s a spiritual statement being made there too.  That there’s a healing that goes on that’s greater than the physical.  You know when these guys open their eyes, what is the first thing that they see?  The first thing they see is Jesus.  These guys have been blind, and the first thing they see is Jesus standing right before them, the Son of God.  They already saw in a sense, spiritually, and then they see him physically.  And they follow him, so clearly their eyes are opened, man.  Not just physically, but spiritually they follow him as followers.  And that’s a picture so often, you know, there are a lot of blind people throughout history, not necessarily physically, but spiritually.  Paul talks about people in the world being blind, blind to the Gospel, blind to Christ.  But then the Holy Spirit starts to come across their path, and the Gospel comes their way, and they start to discern, and there’s this thing that goes on, and they begin to say ‘I guess, God I want to know you, God I want to have a relationship with you.’  And so they cry out, and Jesus calls them, and when he calls, people respond, man, he will cure them.  You see the cure, he’ll cure them, he’ll give them sight, he’ll give them life.  He’ll give them eternal life.  So kind of a picture there at the end.  Jesus heading to the cross, he’s still touching lives and ministering to lives, clearly he came to pour out his life.  Let’s close in prayer…[connective expository sermon of Matthew 20:17-34, given somewhere in New England]

 

Related links:

 

Prophecies of Jesus’ first and second coming combined throughout the Old Testament, confusing to the Jews:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_2.htm

 

The Fruit of Selfishness and Ambition (or Selfish Ambition) within a church or denomination:

http://unityinchristcom.blogspot.com/search/label/church%20government

 

If you’re interested in being a pastor, or a better pastor, buy this book, read it, apply it:

“A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” available at:

http://www.amazon.com

 

Pastor Chuck Smith, who is he?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

Hierarchal “Corporate America”/Roman Catholic form of church government:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm

 

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