Faithlife Sermons

HG125-126 Matthew 20:17-34, Mark 10:32-52, Luke 18:31-43

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:22
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Matthew 20:17–34 NKJV
17 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” 23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” 31 Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” 32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 33 They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” 34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.
We are on the road to Jerusalem. His going there was God’s plan from the beginning of time that would expose our rebellion and manifest God’s love in salvation. So, we find that Jesus takes His disciples aside privately and makes it clear that it is His intention to go to Jerusalem. Now, if Jesus had stopped at this point this would have heightened the excitement - now is the time that the Kingdom is coming and the Roman’s are leaving. I suspect that it was at this very point that the disciples stopped listening for though they heard Jesus say the next words it was as if He had not said them because they could not put two and two together and make four, instead it made zero sense.
But the message should have been getting clearer for this was not the first or second time that Jesus had told them that He was going to suffer but this was now the third time. Granted that this time Jesus gave more detail, namely that He would be betrayed, He would be handed over to the Gentiles and that He would be crucified. Jesus was trying to condition the disciples for what was to happen.
They really did not grasp what was being said at all as evidenced in what happened next.
Mother’s love their kids, don’t they? Today is “Mothering Sunday”. We do have Jesus on His way to Jerusalem and in a later passage of Him brooding over Jerusalem as a Hen broods over her chicks longing to gather them together. Today, mothers are ambitious for their kids. I’ve seen a few TV programs about Tiger Mums and what they put their kids through whether it is having their kids taught piano, spelling bees, extra tutorials in maths or some other subject. They are constantly pushing them. I’m not sure that this makes for happy kids but what do I know! I think I could have done with a bit more pushing at school if I hadn’t been ill so often.
Well, in this passage we have a mother, and perhaps not the best example of one, but certainly ambitious for her sons, so there really is nothing new under the sun. We should also remember that in that particular day and age women did not have the same rights and that if a woman had approached another rabbi to ask something of them they would not have been heard yet, here, we find that Jesus hears what she has to say just as much as He would hear a man. Indeed, Jesus was radical in that way. He would turn normal conventions on their heads. Convention is only there to maintain order but sometimes these need to be reevaluated.
I don’t know who instigated this whole thing. Was it the mother pushing the kids or the kids pushing the mother? Either way they wanted to get in before Peter asked or any of the others asked for they all had these things in mind as we see from their response later on.
In Mark the words of the request echo that of Bathsheba to David concerning Solomon:
1 Kings 2:20 NKJV
20 Then she said, “I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you.”
But get this first. They really do not know what they are asking. They still had in mind that Jesus was about to be crowned King in Jerusalem for this would be the fulfilment of prophecy. They imagined Jesus upon the throne and with His right and left hand men next to Him. After all, this was a fair assumption seeing that they were part of the inner circle which did include Peter but who seems to have been forgotten here!
John Stackhouse wrote a parody of those who think such things:
Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior The Disciples’ Failure to Learn Jesus’ Servant Approach (vv. 36-41)

This all sounds pretty contemporary to me. “The Lord takes care of those who take care of themselves,” some say.

Name it and claim it,” that’s what faith’s about!

You can have what you want if you just have no doubt.

So make out your “wish list” and keep on believin’

And you find yourself perpetually receivin’

Their request, though, was the very opposite of what Jesus had been saying of Himself, that He is the Suffering Servant Saviour.
Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior The Disciples’ Failure to Learn Jesus’ Servant Approach (vv. 36-41)

The Lord, of course, was not going to leave James and John, or the rest of the disciples for that matter, in their delusion. So he began to dialogue with them, probing the shallowness and naivete of their thinking.

Are you able to drink the cup and be baptised? How did James and John understand this? Of course, we are up to the task of ruling, after all we are called sons of thunder. We will be fully immersed in the role of ruling with you.
But, of course, they did not realise that this cup was not of blessing, not of leading but of suffering. To receive the same cup and to be baptised as Jesus was to be was not at all what they had imagined. The cup here was to be of internal, mental, physical and spiritual sufferings that Jesus would endure. And even if there had been some sort of inkling the full breadth of it would not be understood at that very moment of time. Sometimes we wish for something but don’t realise it is not what we thought it would be. They were seeing things through rose-tinted glasses and fantasy of the good life when they should have been looking through not roses but thorn-tinted glasses and the reality on the ground.
After receiving an answer in the affirmative Jesus then tells them that they will indeed drink the cup and be baptised with the same that Jesus is baptised with. “Be careful of what you ask for” is an oft spoke expression.
Let me be clear to those who would seek to rule in this place, for those who have sought to be on the Diaconate, for those who work behind the scenes trying to influence things, be careful of what you wish for, for the cup that you will drink may not taste sweet but bitter. This is why Scripture is clear that those in such positions should not be novices or new to the faith or susceptible to pride for it can damage you and those whom you seek to have a say about.
For James and John they both suffered greatly. In Acts 12:2 we find that James became a martyr killed by Herod with a sword. John lived in exile, alone and solitary, until he died of a great age but not before going through tortuous sufferings throughout his life. They both drank the cup and were baptised into suffering.
It is curious to me that here the word baptised is not thought to be anything other than a complete immersion whereas in other places certain elements of the Church think that baptism is just a sprinkle of water on the head. No, baptism in both cases is a full and complete dunking. This picture shows just how hard it was for James and John and indeed all the other disciples who were also martyred and on their way to death suffered immensely.
Now the disciples hear that this outrageous request had been asked of Jesus. I think that they were disappointed that they had not got in there first!
As I. Williams puts it:
“The ambition of one creates envy in others who partake of the same feeling.”
But it also reveals that not one of them had understood what Jesus said when He took them aside. I will be betrayed. And right in their midst was the betrayer, perhaps not with that thought in this heart, yet. But he, like the others, expected Jesus to rule and it may have been the disillusionment that this was not going to happen as thought that led to the seeds being planted in Judas’ heart. But Jesus had been upfront with them all about what was going to actually take place when they got to Jerusalem; He had not hoodwinked them at any time.
And then came the lesson. “You know that rulers rule. My Kingdom is not like that. I am not here to become a great military leader and by force cause certain things to go my way.”
I have heard about some churches in the last few of days where the Pastor became an autocrat and dictated how things were to be done without first hearing the opinions of others and ruling over the deacons in such a way that they were conceded their power to him and caused those who opposed him to resign. He really should have read this passage carefully.
For Jesus said: It shall not be so among you. The greatest is the one who serves not the one who rules though these are not necessarily opposites. For as we shall see Jesus rules and serves or, should it be said, that He serves in His rulership.
This is THE key verse in Mark’s gospel:
Mark 10:45 NKJV
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
First, Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man not the Son of God. He is THE true human. So, He wanted to be clear, that on this occasion, on His first advent, He has come to be our servant not to have others wait hand and foot on Him. This is hard to get our minds around. Think it in your mind: Jesus is my servant. It does not sound right at all. And indeed it is not right. We are to be His servants. But what we find is that Jesus came to serve and make Himself as nothing in order to save us. He

was ever active in ministering to others’ wants, going about doing good, healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out demons; always accessible, sympathetic, merciful; never weary of teaching, however fatigued in body; a servant to the race which he came to save.

We are reminded of the words in Philippians:
Philippians 2:5–8 NKJV
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
He paid the ransom in full in order to reconcile us to God. This is what we read in this week’s promise in the bulletin. We have been reconciled to God by Jesus in His paying the price for us and now we have this same ministry towards others. We are to serve each other, we are to serve those in the world so that we also bring people to reconciliation with God.
Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior The Lord’s Rebuke of His Disciples (vv. 42-45)

In 1878 when William Booth’s Salvation Army had just been so named, men from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of himself as a bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. He was a Methodist minister, Samuel Logan Brengle. And now he turned from a fine pastorate to join Booth’s Salvation Army. Brengle later became the Army’s first American-born commissioner. But at first Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, “You’ve been your own boss too long.” And in order to instill humility into Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of the other trainees. And Brengle said to himself: “Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?” And then as in a vision he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen.” “Lord,” he whispered, “you washed their feet; I will black their boots.

So, again these are wise words to those who would be deacons and elders here. Jesus, as our example, waited on us. Jesus substituted Himself for us. He is the suffering servant who according to Isaiah bore our iniquities.
We then read about the two blind men who would see. We do have a curious wording here in verse 29 for it says that they were coming out of Jericho whereas Mark’s Gospel has us going into Jericho.
Because of these two passages a couple of archaeologists surmised that there was actually two Jericho's! What a thing to think! They thought that this could be the only explanation without Scripture being broken. And what did they discover - just that - the men, one called Kenyon and the other Holland dug up the area in the 1930s and ‘50s and contributed our understanding of the history of the area. What we find Jesus doing then was that He was leaving the ancient city of Jericho and going into the new city which was being rebuilt by Herod.
And is there possibly another contradiction - here we have two blind men and in Mark’s gospel only one. Plainly there were two but in Mark’s gospel he concentrated upon the one who was named by him as Bartimaeus probably because he was known to the fellowship.

The story is told of a poet and an artist viewing a painting by Nicolas Poussin, the French master. The picture represented the healing of the blind man at Jericho. The artist asked the poet to relate what he saw as the most remarkable thing in the painting. The poet responded by noting the excellent presentation of the figure of Christ, of the grouping of the people, and the expressions on their faces. But the artist pointed to the corner of the canvas where the painter had pictured a discarded cane lying on the steps of a house, and said, “Now, look! The blind man sat on those steps with his cane in hand. But when he heard that Jesus was passing by, he was so sure that he would be healed that he let the cane lie there and he went to Jesus fully expecting to see!”

Jesus, having come to serve, did exactly that and healed both men of their blindness. And one, we know by name because He came to faith not only from his physical blindness but from his spiritual. Bartimaeus put his trust in Jesus to save Him and we celebrate the man who did not trust his sight but trusted in God.
We need to be like the blind who are completely reliant upon others and have faith that trusts what God says He will do. Then we are to step out in faith, we are to serve God and the main way we do this is in serving others just as Jesus did when He was walking the earth. He called Himself the Son of Man. So, let us follow Him, as we ourselves are the sons of men: we are not here to be served but to serve. And above all to give honour to the Son of God.


1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 NKJV
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.


Blum, E. A., & Wax, T. (Eds.). (2017). CSB Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Augsburger, M. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Matthew (Vol. 24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant and savior. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). Matthew: Chapters 16:13–28:20 (Vol. II). Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Negev, A. (1990). In The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Press.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 18:34 29 March 2019.
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