How Not To Be Great In the Kingdom

(Mt. 20:20-28)


Introduction: Men seek greatness by worldly means, but such won’t work in God’s Kingdom.

   * 4 worldly ways found in Matt. 20:20-25.


1. Political Power-play (vv. 20-21).

   * “Not what you know, but who you know.”

   * Mt. 20:20 – James’ & John’s mother asked on their behalf (all 3 together) – right after Jesus explained His death!

   * Jesus asked, “What wilt thou?” She asked for places of prominence for her boys.

   * James & John were bold (Mk. 9:38, Luke 9:54). Called “sons of Thunder” (Mk. 3:17).


   * Relationship factored into this request. Mother of the sons of Zebedee (Salome) is the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus

      (Mt. 27:56, Mk. 15:40, Jn. 19:25).


   * Salome worshiped Jesus desiring something of Him, but wouldn’t immediately disclose what it was until He asked.

   * She would receive glory through her sons, if the request were granted.

   * James and John wanted glory without suffering; a crown without a cross. Maybe they thought Peter had disqualified

      himself from a prominent position.


   * The church still suffers from those who seek preeminence! (Mt. 23:6-9; III Jn. 9).


2. Ambition (vv. 22-24).

   * Ignorance (v. 22) –


   * II Cor. 4:17 – path to greatness is suffering; affliction – for the cause of Christ.

   * Those who obey and work for the Lord receive eternal life (Mt. 20:1-16).


   * Jesus asked if they could drink of His cup – could they endure the His level of suffering?

      - “Cup” – OT symbol, “to take everything in.” (Isa. 51:17, 22).


   * Their excessive confidence! “We can take it!” Our own strength not enough! Recall Peter (Mt. 26:33-75).


   * The disciples would taste of Jesus’ cup, but not drink all of it. James, the 1st martyred apostle (Acts 12:2). John, exiled

      on Patmos.


   * Only God will pass out rewards (Mt. 20:23).


   * Other disciples upset, still arguing over who would be greatest days later (Luke 22:24-27).


3. Dominant dictatorship (v. 25).

   * History populated by dictators: Hitler, Ptolemys, etc.


   * Dictators in the church, too (III Jn. 9). Peter instructed elders not to “lord their authority” over the flock (I Pet. 5:3).


4. Charismatic control (v. 25).

   * Many exist in religion who are charismatic, endearing, and the masses are quick to follow them.


      - Jim Jones


   * Don’t use your personality to manipulate others.


5. Conclusion: Seek greatness through service. You must drink the cup before wearing the crown (Mt. 20:20-28).



                                                                                                                                    R.W. McAlister 6/13/10 p.m.