Jesus Shows Us True Greatness
These are the readings for the Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
“I am the greatest,” shouted Muhammad Ali after one of his more famous boxing victories. He later added, “I am the greatest heavy weight of all time.” How would you define greatness? Is it power? Wealth? Fame? In our readings for this Lord’s Day, the greatest who ever lived, he who died for us all and rose again, shows us that true greatness comes through humble service.
Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 53:10-12
In the verses preceding this reading, Isaiah describes in detail Jesus’ suffering on the cross some 700 years before he was even born. Why does this suffering servant deserve a portion among the great?
Because he gave his life for the world. Jesus willingly allowed himself to suffer the punishment of all the sins, of all people, of all time. He paid the price with his humble service and won the victory for all people.
What does it mean that this suffering servant has justified many?
“Justify” is a courtroom term. It means, “to declare innocent.” Jesus, the righteous or innocent servant, suffered the punishment of the guilty in order that they might be declared innocent of all charges. Through Jesus the suffering servant, we have been justified, i.e., declared innocent of all sin. We are now free to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Chronicles 26:16-23
What did King Uzziah do wrong that caused God to afflict him with leprosy?
In his pride, Uzziah went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the golden incense altar inside the Holy Place. Only priests were allowed there.
Therefore, what couldn’t Uzziah do for the rest of his life? (See 2 Chronicles 26:21.)
For the rest of his life, due to his skin disease, Uzziah could not enter even the outdoor courts of the LORD‘s temple where other Jewish people could go.
Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 4:9-16
The Book of Hebrews demonstrates how Jesus is superior to every aspect of the Jewish religion. In the Old Testament, what was the “Sabbath?”
The word “Sabbath” literally means, “rest.” Just as God rested on the seventh day of creation, he commanded his Old Testament believers to rest on the seventh day and dedicate it to him and his Word.
What superior “rest” does Jesus give?
The Sabbath Day symbolized the eternal rest that God would give his people in heaven—the perfect rest that comes only through faith in Jesus. Even today through the double-edged sword of his Word, God gives us the spiritual rest that we need to make it through this sinful world and prepare ourselves for the one to come. May we never despise preaching and his Word!
How is Jesus a superior High Priest?
Part of the High Priest’s job in the Old Testament was as intercessor, i.e., he was to offer up prayers on behalf of the people. Jesus is our perfect intercessor who understands our trials because he has faced them. Yet he did not sin. He won for us the right to approach God with confidence.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 9:7-12, 19-23
Did Paul and Barnabas have a right to be paid for their labors among the Corinthians?
Yes, Paul and Barnabas had a right to be paid for their gospel work. Both logic (Paul cites soldiers, vineyard owners, and shepherds in 9:7, and plowmen and threshers in 9:10) and the Old Testament (Paul cites Deuteronomy 25:4 in 9:9) show that Paul and Barnabas had a right to be paid. Pastors and other hard-working servants of the gospel today have the same right.
Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas make use of this right? (See 1 Corinthians 9:12.)
Paul and Barnabas did not make use of their right, so as not to hinder the gospel of Christ when they were in Corinth.
Why was Paul so adaptable and flexible in his ministry methods? What was his goal?
Paul was so adaptable and flexible in his ministry methods so that all in all, he might save some people (9:22) and that he might share in the gospel’s benefits himself (9:23).
Gospel – Mark 10:35-45
How did the disciples define greatness?
Jesus’ disciples considered greatness to be a position of honor among themselves. They considered greatness to be having a seat right next to Jesus when he came into his glory.
According to Jesus, how should we define greatness?
Jesus, the Great One, gave us the greatest example of greatness. He humbly offered his life to pay for the freedom of all mankind from eternal death. True greatness comes through humble service. May we follow Christ’s example of humble service, not out of selfish ambition, but out of thanks and love to him who loved us first.