Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Honoring HIM Most, by Serving the Least’
© September 27, 2015, by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #633 (The Good Shepherd – John 10); Prayer
Opening Hymn #182: Marvelous Message We Bring; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Today’s Scriptures: Mark 10:35-45, John 13:1-20, Matthew 25:31-46
Let us pray,
Welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of fall, 2015. For those of us who live in Toronto, Canada, fall officially arrived last Wednesday, September 23, at 4:21 A.M. EDT. If you did not hear it through the media or from your calendar, you may have not been aware of fall’s arrival.
Our lesson today is entitled, ‘Honoring Him Most, by serving the Least’, where we will examine what initially seems to be a contradiction in terms, where the disciples of Christ had to be taught on more than one occasion, in more than one way, to empty themselves of their personal selfish ambitions and tendencies towards conceit, seeking to live a life of humility and compassion to others.
The disciples knew that the Lord was the Son of God, anointed with the Spirit, and able to demonstrate the supernatural ability to perform miracles. However, they did not grasp the fact that Jesus came in the likeness of humanity having emptied himself of his godliness to serve as the vessel of humanity’s judgment for sin, thereby raising us above death and sending us with the Holy Spirit of God. We receive these gifts of God’s love, by our faith, to be reconciled as new creatures reborn in the Spirit.
While the disciples did not benefit from understanding that comes by way of the Spirit, as the day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit, had yet to arrive. Perhaps this is why the Lord had to demonstrate to the disciples the need to be humble not just before God, but before others. We see examples of the challenges the Lord encountered in today’s Scripture verses:
Mark 10:35-45 (ESV): The Request of James and John
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And 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, 40 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.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I believe the answer to the question in the preceding graphic is: “None of the above”. The two disciples, James and John, assumed that Jesus would be glorified in heaven. We see that the Lord was truly glorified by surrendering himself as a humble sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity. By seeking to share the same glory of Jesus, they would have to endure the same death as Christ.
Before surrendering himself to judgment on the cross, the Lord took time to again teach his disciples a lesson in humility by washing their feet, assuming the humble station of a house servant.
John 13:1-20 (ESV) Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Greek bondservant d.John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled
Our third Scripture passage is where the Lord describes The Final Judgment by the example of separating the sheep from the goats.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The description of goats and sheep is attributed to those being judged, where goats are stubborn, defiant, and often tend to wander away from the flock. By contrast, sheep stay in the herd, obediently following their master, listening to his call.
Obedience is illustrated in today’s verses can be described by servants humbly washing the feet of others; by sheep obediently heeding the voice of their master and helping others of the flock, and by the sacrifice of the Son of God by surrendering his life as a testament to his love for us.
We know that God created men and women in His image, but He sent His Son, Jesus, to serve humanity, not as a king or emperor, but to surrender his life to pay the price for the judgment for the sins of humanity. Like the rest of humanity, Christ suffered death. However, Christ died to pay the debt for all the sins of humanity.
We see that Jesus was raised from death, being resurrected from the grave. In death, Jesus gave us redemption. With Christ’s resurrection, we are given the promise of our own resurrection. And with his ascension to heaven, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit to be our companion and comfort, until the day that the Lord returns.
Philippians 2:1-7 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men.
We find that in our own humility, we may receive gifts of the Spirit to enable us to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion to others, particularly serving the Lord by serving the least of our brothers and sisters.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #508: I Gave My Life for Thee
Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23): Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.