This sermon was preached at Red Rocks Baptist Church (14711 W. Morrison Rd. Morrison, CO 80465) on Oct. 21, 2012 by Pastor Les Heinze. These notes are provided as a recap and for further study into the message from God’s Word.
COMPETITION IN THE KINGDOM
The game of Monopoly is the world-wide, all-time best selling table game. With over 200 million sold over 78 years, it continues to be extremely popular.
The strategy for winning is two-fold: get all the property and money you can, and crush your opponent in the process. It is a fun game to play, but a terrible way to live. The question is: are you able to leave your ‘game face’ at the table so it doesn’t spill over into everyday living?
There is a difference between friendly competition and unbridled ambition. Jesus recognized the latter and gave some poignant cautions about it. Where in the Bible? Mark 10.
Servanthood: A Job with Little Competition (10:32-34)
This passage is closely connected with the previous one in which Jesus highlights a servant mentality by pointing out that “those who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” The desire to be last would never win in Monopoly, but it will in life. The ultimate position as a servant was demonstrated by our Lord as he explained his own upcoming death in Jerusalem. The last verse of the passage explains clearly why. He did it for us – a true servant approach. The disciples completely rejected the prospect. Inordinate competition could not be included in any aspect of servant life for Jesus or for them. In this incident, they simply ignored what Jesus said without reaction. They most certainly did not jockey for position to be the next in line to serve.
Competition: A Learned Attitude (10:35-41)
While Mark doesn’t mention it, the parallel passage in Matthew points out that it was James’ and John’s mother, Salome, who initially broached the idea of a place of prominence for them to Jesus. Perhaps this kind of ‘get ahead’ intensity was a family trait, since their father Zebedee was an entrepreneur with his own fishing business. Family training can be positive and helpful, but it can also be destructive. Not only did their request draw a rebuke and re-direction from Jesus Christ, it caused a rift within the disciple group. Great caution must be exercised in self-advancement so that it is done in the right way, with the right attitude, and does not alienate others (v. 41).
Regardless of the source, Jesus pointed out how inappropriate their desires were. He didn’t do so directly or harshly, but did suggest an alternative. Ultimately, God is the only one who determines greatness. His evaluation will reject self-promoters, but honor servant-minded self-deniers.