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True Greatness

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 23, 2022 7:00 pm

True Greatness

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 23, 2022 7:00 pm

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I have your Bibles with you today.

Turn with me, if you would, to Mark chapter 10, and we're going to be starting at verses 32 through 34. The first sin that was ever committed by Satan was the first sin ever committed by man. The sin of pride. Father, we have pride because we focus more on our waltz and desires than on your glory and your goodness. Proverbs 16, 18, you said, Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. In Proverbs 6, you list six things that you hate, seven that are an abomination to you.

And the first one you mention is haughty eyes, or pride. In this passage, we see how Jesus is working to break pride in the disciples. And he does that through a statement about himself, Mark 10, 45.

The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, to give his life a ransom for many. Lord, please use that verse today to break pride in us and to deepen our appreciation of Jesus. Help me to preach today. Keep my lips from error. Help me to edify this congregation and exalt Jesus. For it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. Years ago, a man asked me a question. He said, Doug, why are you so convinced that the Bible is the inerrant and fallible word of God? He said, you know that the Bible was written by fallible men who were capable of making mistakes. So why would you think that the Bible would be inerrant?

I said, well, first of all, what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. He said that not one jot or tittle shall pass away from the law. What is a jot? A jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet called a yod. Looks like a little apostrophe.

What is a tittle? A tittle is a little mark on several of the Hebrew letters. Jesus said not only are the statements of the Bible true, not only are the words of the Bible true, but even the letters and even marks on the letters were absolutely as God wanted them as it came off the pins of those who were writing in the original autographs. I said then secondly, I am convinced that the Bible is truly the inerrant and fallible word of God because of fulfilled prophecy. Much of the Bible was written prophetically and we have prophecies all the way through the Scripture that have already been filled 100% to the letter. And then we have more prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled that will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back. Folks, the passage that we are looking at today has to do with the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus knows that his time is coming to an end. He knows that the cross for him is not just a possibility, it is an absolute certainty. In Isaiah chapter 50 through chapter 53, we have statements that are made that are not just generalities about what might happen to the Messiah, but are poignant detailed prophecies of exactly what would take place when the Messiah would be crucified.

And it's just such a beautiful thing to look at what God does and showing us this beforehand. I want to read you in Isaiah chapter 50 verses 5 through 7. And I want you to remember this took place and it was written down by Isaiah over 700 years before Jesus was even born. It's telling us what Jesus is thinking as he is getting ready to be crucified and is even telling us about what Jesus is feeling on the inside.

Listen to this. The prophecy here states that the Messiah will know exactly what is coming for him, that he is going to be sent to the cross, that he is going to be beaten, that he is going to have his beard pulled out of his cheeks, that he is going to be spit on, that he is going to be mocked. And knowing all those horrifying details of what the cross will be, let's know what it says in verse 7.

That without shame, he will set his face like flint to go through with it. In Luke chapter 9 verse 51, Jesus used that same kind of prophetic language and he said that Jesus set his face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem. That's exactly what's going on in the passage that we're looking at today.

With full awareness of the hail of the cross, Jesus steadfastly, resolutely, and with full determination sets his face to go to that cross and nothing on earth or heaven or hell can stop him. Folks, that prophecy was made over 740 years before Jesus actually fulfilled it. And that's what we see in Scripture, that the Scripture as God prophesied it is going to take place exactly as the Scripture prophesied it.

It's going to happen. And we see it over and over again. And on the day that Jesus died, 33 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled to the letter. That's one of the primary reasons that I believe that the Bible is the inherent, infallible Word of God.

With that said, I've got three points I want to share with you this morning. Number one, the Savior's prediction. Let's look at those same verses again, verse 32 through 34. They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them.

And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, He began to tell them what was to happen to Him, saying, See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes. And they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days, He will rise. So Jesus steps out several yards ahead of the disciples, and there was another crowd that was following in behind them, and the Scriptures tell us that they were amazed and they were afraid.

Now, why? I think they were amazed because they knew what Jesus was getting ready to go through. He was going to Jerusalem. He was getting ready to go to the cross. They knew that this was like a man walking into a burning building, knowing that it could collapse at any moment.

They knew that this was the time. If Jesus knew what was going to go on there, He could have run. He could have gone to another city. He could have stayed away from that, but Jesus would not do it. He set His face like flint to go to Jerusalem, knowing that He was going to the cross.

He focuses His eyes and heart on Jerusalem, and nothing can stop Him. The Scripture says not only were they amazed, but they were also afraid. Why were they afraid? They were afraid because they were with Him and they were following Him, that what was going to happen to Jesus might also happen to them, and so it scared them. So Jesus stops, and He gives the disciples another discussion. He's already told them two times before that He's going to be crucified. Three days later, He will be resurrected. This time, He tells them that He's going to be crucified and resurrected, but He gives them much more detail.

This detail we have not seen before. He tells them that, I will be betrayed. He says, I will be delivered to the Gentiles.

That means by the Roman government. He says He will be mocked, He will be scourged, He will be spit on. Then He will be crucified and resurrected. The liberal commentators state that Jesus didn't actually say this, that Mark put those words in Jesus' mouth so it would look like a predictive prophecy. I want you to know that's an absolute lie. People who do not believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture will always attack fulfilled prophecy, and that's what they do when they attack this, saying that Jesus didn't really say it. He did say it, folks. So we need to understand that. I want you to think for just a minute, if you would, about some of the prophecies that were given about Jesus that Jesus fulfilled, or that were fulfilled, and Jesus had no way to manipulate those prophecies.

Let me just give you a few. He was born of a virgin. He didn't manipulate that.

It happened. Isaiah chapter 7. He was born in Bethlehem.

He couldn't manipulate that. It happened exactly as Scripture says, Micah chapter 5. Isaiah chapter 53. He was beaten with stripes. In Psalm 22, we are told that his clothes were divided by his enemies, and they gambled for his clothes.

Psalm 22. In Psalm 22, we're also told that his feet and his hands would be pierced. He could not manipulate that. And then in Isaiah 53, we are told that he would be buried in the tomb of a rich man. He could not manipulate that. Jesus could do nothing to manipulate those things. It happened by God's sovereign will. I want to read you something R.C.

Sproul said here. I thought this was interesting. He said, Then the sins of the people were symbolically transferred to the back of the scapegoat, which then was driven out into the wilderness, outside the camp, into the outer darkness. Leviticus 16. That was what it meant to be a Jew, to be delivered to the Gentiles. To be placed in the hands of the Gentiles was to be sent outside the covenant community, outside the camp, outside the place where the presence of God was concentrated and focused.

So the disciples must have been aghast when Jesus told them that he was going to be handed over to the Gentiles. All right, my point two is self-promotion. I've got three sub-points I want to share with you.

Sub-point A is selfish ambition. Look at verse 35 through 37. The timing of this event is really what just absolutely blows my mind. What has Jesus just been talking to them about? And telling them about the horror of this coming crucifixion, that his destiny is the cross. And with that statement just fresh on their mind, just ruminating through their mind, I wonder how in the world do they get away from that statement and that thinking of what Jesus is going to do, and all of a sudden they start honing in on their own personal greatness and they need to be rewarded by God for who they are and what they're doing. I mean, who are these men?

How evil, how wicked is that? Well, let me tell you who these men are. These are godly men, good men, godly men. They're two brothers, James and John. They had left lucrative fishing businesses in order to follow the Lord Jesus. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he looked down and he saw John and he pointed to his mother and he said, John, you take care of her and you take the responsibility of watching over her as if she were your own mother.

John wrote the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, the book of Revelation. John was beaten time and time again. He was thrown into a vat of boiling oil and he lived through it. He was finally exiled to the island of Patmos. He was a godly man. I think of James, his brother. His brother was sentenced to death, he was the first martyr by King Herod Agrippa who ordered that he be killed by the sword.

That's what's going on. John was the disciple that lived the longest. I think he's probably around 100 years old when he died.

I think he wrote the book of Revelation around 95 AD. He lived a long life. James, on the other hand, died very early. He died only a few months after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended. He died as a martyr.

King Herod Agrippa ordered his execution, that he be killed by the sword. He died and was immediately in the very presence of the Lord Jesus. So folks, these men are not slackers. They are not taking Jesus lightly, but their pride got the best of them. Now theologians say that there's what's called an inner circle. The inner circle is Peter, James, and John. Those are disciples that had privileges that the other disciples did not have. Jesus took them with him up to the Mount of Transfiguration. They got up there and Jesus turned dazzling, gloriously white.

The glory of God was emanating from his presence and they saw it and they experienced that. Couldn't tell the other disciples. The other disciples didn't even know about that until after Jesus was resurrected.

Then they could tell them. They were allowed to go up with Jesus up to the bedroom of Jairus' daughter, where Jesus raised the little girl from the dead. Here were three disciples, Peter, James, and John, who had privileges that the other disciples did not have.

Now I don't know if those privileges stoked their pride and perhaps made them feel a little superior to the other disciples, but I have the feeling that that's exactly what happened. Now in Matthew's Gospel, we are told that when James and John went before Jesus to ask him this question, that their mother went with them. Matthew Henry, great Puritan, said this, In the Gospel of Matthew, the mother makes the request. In Mark, the two sons make the request. So which is right?

Answer both of them. The mother presented the petition and then they repeated it and gave their assent. In other words, the mother asked first and then the two disciples said, Yes, yes, Jesus, that's what we want, and they said amen to it. They said, Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask you to do. Is that not like a kid trying to manipulate his parents?

My kids used to do that. Daddy, Daddy, just give us what we ask you. Would you promise us that you'll do that?

And I'll say, No, we'll talk about it first and then we'll see. And that's what Jesus is doing here. Jesus will not be manipulated.

So Jesus says, Okay, what do you want? And they said, We want to sit on your right hand and on your left hand in your kingdom. Now back in Jesus' day, in the ancient kings, if they had a very intimate loved one, they might put him or her on the right hand and left hand of their throne. Or if they had a very close associate, might be on the right hand or the left hand on their throne.

Now think about it. They had been walking side by side with Jesus for three years. Did they know who he was?

Yeah, they knew. Remember the great confession of Peter has already been made. Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. They knew Jesus was the Messiah. If Jesus was the Messiah, who was he? He was King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He was God Almighty, the second person of the Trinity. He was the creator of heaven and earth.

And this is what really blew their mind, because Jesus shows them humility that is just absolutely phenomenal. He turns the other cheek every time. He goes the second mile.

He has no place to lay his head down to sleep. He wears these plain clothes every day. I think Paul probably said it best in Philippians chapter 2, verse 5 through 8, when he said, Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made of himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of the servant, and was made in the likeness of man. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Folks, it could not be more plain. The glorious, omnipotent, sovereign God was filled with unadulterated humility. These disciples knew that, and yet what do we see them doing? What are these disciples doing? They try to manipulate Jesus, and they try to elevate themselves above the other disciples. Folks, this was a self-promoting ambition on part of the disciples, and they were so proud they didn't even realize what they were doing.

All right, subpoint B is arrogant confidence. Look at verse 38 through 40. Jesus said to them, You do not know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink of, or be baptized with a baptism with which I am baptized?

And they said to him, Yes, we are able. Jesus said to them, The cup that I drink you will drink. The baptism with which I am baptized you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or my left hand is not mine to grant. It is for those for whom it has been prepared. Jesus said to them, Are you able to drink the cup which I drink, be baptized with a baptism which I am going to be baptized?

And what does that mean? This idea of drinking the cup means to fully experience. What was the cup of Jesus?

His cup that was filled was filled with the wrath of God. And so how do they respond? I think they respond much like Peter did. Remember Peter said, Oh Lord, I'll never deny you. I don't know about these other guys, but you can trust me. I won't deny you. I'd go to prison for you. I'd die for you, but I'd never deny you.

What is that? It's proud overconfidence. James and John are doing the same thing here. They said, Oh yes, Lord, we can drink of your cup. We can be baptized with your baptism.

Oh yes, Lord, we can handle it. What did they do when the soldiers came to get Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? They scattered like sheep, didn't they?

They didn't do so well. Jesus knew exactly what they would do after the day of Pentecost when they were filled with the spirit of God. Jesus said this to them. He said, The cup that I drink you will drink, with the baptism with which I am baptized. You will be baptized. But they said, At my right hand or at my left hand is not mine to grant. It is for those whom it is prepared. Jesus said, You're right.

You will both suffer greatly. James was martyred only a few months after Jesus died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven. He was martyred at the order of King Herod Agrippa and he was ordered to be killed by the sword. That usually meant decapitation, so he probably had his head chopped off. John was beaten time and time again.

He was thrown to a vat of boiling oil and lived through it and ended up being exiled on the island of Patmos. Then Jesus said, Guys, the Father will sovereignly choose who sits on his right hand and who sits on his left hand. He said, You guys don't need to worry about how God is going to reward his servants. He said, What you need to worry about is how can you best serve. How can you best serve me? How can you best serve my Father? How can you best serve your fellow man?

That's what you need to be concerned about. My prayer at this point is this. I'd like for you just to close your eyes for just a second and pray along with me and ask yourself, Can I pray that prayer? Lord, help me to quit thinking about self. Help me to realize that humility on earth is honored by God in heaven. Help me to realize that where I sit in heaven should not be my goal, but who I bow to in glory should be my joy. Amen.

All right, sub point C is ugly competition. Verses 41 through 42. When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. Jesus called them to him and said to them, You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them, and their great ones exercised authority over them. When the ten other disciples heard the request that James and John had made, they were indignant. They got mad.

The steam just coming off their head. What were they upset about? Were they upset because James and John were acting out of humility, not out of humility, but out of just utter pride? Were they saying, James and John, you should not do that. You know how God hates pride. You ought to repent of this.

That's what you need to do. Are they expressing here what we might call godly righteous indignation? I don't think so at all. I don't think that's what they're doing. I think they're acting out of jealousy. I think they're just mad because they didn't think of this first. I think that's what they're mad about.

And this ugly, prideful competitiveness does not stop here. Even at the Last Supper, the Lord's Supper on the day before Jesus is crucified, they're still arguing about who's the greatest. So Jesus used this sinful attitude of the disciples as an opportunity to preach to them.

Listen to what he said. You know that there are those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles. They lord it over them. And their great ones exercise authority over them. Jesus is simply saying, you have been influenced and taught by the world system that is controlled by the power of Satan. And you have watched these political leaders that are prideful, that are corrupt, that are selfish, and that are overconfident.

And you see that they gain worldly power, then they step on common people to try to get ahead. Jesus is saying to the disciples, don't be jealous of that. He said, if that's where you are, that's not going to make you happy.

That's not going to fill you with joy. Don't be proud of that, and don't believe that lie. 1987, I went to communist Romania. And the first place that we went to in this one particular city was this man's house, a Christian's house. It had a beautiful little family. The man's name was John. We brought food and medicine that the man could take and distribute it among the Christian community there. And this man, John, had just been let out of prison. They threw him in prison because he missed two hours of work on a Sunday morning to go worship the Lord, so he'd just gotten out of prison. And John told me that he and his family had just gotten back from America.

I was shocked. And he said that his sister had married an American. She moved to America.

The guy worked in IT. He had a beautiful home right outside of Disneyland in California, and said that their sister moved there, and they got the whole family were able to go and visit with them. While they were there, the owner of the company that his brother-in-law worked for offered John a job, and the pay was absolutely ridiculous. And John turned it down and said, No, we're going back to Romania. We're going back to persecution.

We're going back to being under communism. And I said, John, did you lose your mind? I said, What in the world were you thinking of? You had your whole family over here. You could have defected. Why in the world would you do that?

All this is going your way. You could have bought a beautiful home. You would have had a good job.

You could put your kids through school. You would have freedom of religion. And John said, My sister, when she was in Romania, was on fire for the Lord. He said she walked with God. He said she witnessed everybody who would listen to her. He said she memorized Scripture every day.

She was filled with joy. He said when we saw her in the United States, that joy was gone. She'd lost her zeal for the Lord. She wasn't witnessing anymore. She wasn't memorizing Scripture anymore.

She was going to church, but just sporadically. And he said to me, I would rather live under persecution and be a joyful servant than to be elevated economically and socially in America. He said, Doug, this life is like a vapor. It's like a puff of steam. It's here, and then before you realize it, it's gone. And he said, I don't have but a short time to live, and I want my time to live for Christ.

I want it to count for Christ's sake. He said, so I would rather be a servant in Romania to the Lord than to be a wealthy man in America. I was taken aback by what the man had to say.

It absolutely shocked me. Let me tell you, it was a godly decision. All right, point three is self-denial. Look at verse 43 through 45. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Jesus stops all that he's doing. He makes sure that he has the disciples' complete attention, and then he tells them something that they will never forget. He said, he who wishes to become great shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first will be slave of all. That rubs our fur the wrong way, doesn't it? We don't like this idea of being servant.

We don't like to be slave-oriented. But we've got an example, and the example that Jesus gives us is himself. I believe that Mark chapter 10 verse 45 is the most important verse in the whole Gospel of Mark. It's Jesus speaking, and Jesus said, for the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Folks, that verse encapsulates the Gospel, and we need to get it.

We need to understand it. Folks, my friend John in Romania got it. The apostle Paul got it. Paul had everything in the world going for him. He was a top religious leader. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He had money. He had power. He gave up his power. He gave up his prestige. He gave up his position. He gave up his pride in order that he might become a slave of Christ.

How did that happen? He's on the road to Damascus, headed to Damascus to get papers that would allow him to persecute more Christians. The Lord Jesus Christ stepped out in front of him in his glorified resurrected body. Paul fell to the ground, and at that point in time, Paul begins to understand what Jesus did for him, that Jesus went to the cross, and Jesus died in his place. Jesus became a substitutionary atonement. He died to take Paul's sin and give Paul his righteousness, to take Paul's hell and give Paul his heaven. And so at this point in time, Paul becomes a slave of Christ.

I love 2 Timothy. It's the last letter that Paul wrote. Paul probably finished it up the last days of his life, and he's sitting in that prison cell, knowing that he doesn't have much longer to live.

They're going to chop his head off. He writes out a little short testimony, and he says this, For I am now ready to be offered in the time of my departures at hand, for I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that time, and not to me only, but unto all them also who love is appearing. Let me ask you something. You want a testimony like that?

Do you really want it? If so, you must embrace Mark 10 45. For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Let's pray. Father, I just used your servant Paul as an illustration of a person who developed in himself a servant's heart. The more he learned of Jesus, the more humble he became. Before his conversion, he was haughty and arrogant, but after Jesus encountered him on the Damascus road, he was never the same again. Lord, help us to imitate Paul as the imitated Jesus, and he imitated Jesus' ministry as a servant. Lord, break our pride, deepen our humility, and may we love Jesus more and more each day. For it is in the precious holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-13 19:22:13 / 2022-11-13 19:35:18 / 13

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