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Lent 5 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 21, 2021
Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:32-45
Text and Audio: immanuelhamiltonchurch.com click “sermons”
Full Service Audio: bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship
At various times we all have dreams of glory. Catching the winning touchdown pass at the Super Bowl with no time left on the clock. Executing a perfect triple lutz in figure skating to take the gold medal in the Olympics. Moving up through the ranks until you are the company CEO with the private jet and the huge corner office with a great view of the city. Receiving the award for being teacher of the year from a famous Hollywood celebrity. Preaching a sermon to a stadium full of people who hang on every word and are all convicted by the law and set free by the Gospel. We have dreams of glory.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, have dreams of glory. Jesus taught them Mark 8:38 (ESV) 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
James and John must be imaging how amazing it will be when Jesus comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. The brothers want to share in that glory and try to trick Jesus into granting their wish without hearing what their wish is. They misunderstand Jesus. You can’t play verbal games with Jesus because He knows what you are thinking; being that He is God in flesh. You cannot fool Him. But the brothers have dreams of glory even if these dreams of glory come at a strange time.
They are on their way to Jerusalem and Jesus has just told them for the third time what is going to happen in Jerusalem when they arrive. Mark 10:33–34 (ESV) 33 … “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. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
This is not the first time the disciples have had dreams of greatness. Earlier the disciples argued before about who is the greatest and Jesus told them, Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 …“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
James and John do not let Jesus’ words and warnings deter them from their dreams of glory. They try to trick Jesus into promising to grant them, Mark 10:37 (ESV)
37 … “…to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” James and John must be picturing themselves together with Jesus crowned with jewels, dressed in royal robes sitting on three golden thrones in heaven with angels fanning them with palm branches, feeding them grapes and attending to their every need. They have dreams of glory.
Can they drink the cup? Can they undergo the baptism? The brothers say they are able but they still do not understand what Jesus means. They will later learn and they will later share in Jesus’ suffering; each in their own way.
They have dreams of glory but Jesus has just told them about His glory. Condemnation, mocking, spitting, flogging, death. Jesus’ throne is not golden, but rather rough wood. There will be no royal robes, just shameful nakedness. There will be no crown except one made of thorns pressed down on Jesus’ head. Instead of attending angels there will be bullies with fists and sticks and spit and whips. Instead of grapes there will be just sour wine on a sponge. Instead of honor there will be ridicule and mockery. Jesus’ glory includes nails driven through His wrists and feet and hours of excruciating pain and slow suffocation. This is Jesus’ glory. This is Jesus in His most glorious doing the glorious thing He came to do. He is paying the price for the sins of all humanity. James and John just asked if they could be seated on Jesus’ right and left. These are places the Romans have reserved for two criminals crucified with Jesus.
Mark 10:38 (ESV) 38 Jesus said to [James and John], “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Can they drink the cup? Can they undergo the baptism? The brothers say they are able but they still do not understand what Jesus means. They will later learn and they will later share in Jesus’ suffering; each in their own way. James will be beheaded around 44 AD by Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great. John is the only disciple that is thought to have died of natural causes but we know he was exiled for a time on the Island of Patmos in the middle of the Aegean Sea.
The brothers have dreams of glory but their dreams do not fit the reality of glory in Jesus. Glory in Jesus is not found in what the world calls glory. Glory in Jesus is not found in wealth and luxury with lots of people serving you. Glory in Jesus is found in serving others. Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 … “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” How radically counter cultural for glory to be found in service.
And how wonderful is the way Jesus explains things to the brothers. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink? This is the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus prays to be taken away from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. But the reference to the cup also points us the cup of Holy Communion in which Jesus pours out for you His own blood to cleanse you of your sins. When you drink of this cup you remember and proclaim Jesus’ death. The cup brings to you the very blood of Christ shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
And Jesus also asks, “are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Jesus is talking about His baptism of blood and suffering on the cross but it also points us to baptism of water and the Spirit. Romans 6:3 (ESV) 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Being a Christian is not for the casual observer. As a baptized follower of Jesus you are immersed into the suffering and death of Jesus and raised up to live a new life of service to others. In baptism you die with Christ and rise with Christ and look forward to the final resurrection from your grave. Romans 6:4–5 (ESV) 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
In Christ you are a new creation. In Christ you find glory in the mundane things of life where you love and serve others. A parent is glorified in the changing a dirty diaper; taking a sick child to the doctor; caring for your children through all the difficulties and hardships. In Christ you find glory in shoveling the neighbor’s driveway and cutting their lawn. In Christ you find glory in sending an encouraging note. In Christ you find glory in loving those who hate you. In Christ you find glory in persevering through difficulties at work in order to provide for your family. In Christ you find glory in doing what you have been given to do. In Christ you find glory in going to school, doing your homework, going to work, being faithful to your marriage vows, caring for your family, and helping others.
You will very likely never catch the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl or win an Olympic gold medal. We have unrealistic dreams of worldly glory. You find real glory in Christ. You see Christ’s glory in the horror of the cross as He gives His life for you. You find real glory in your everyday service of others and this gives glory to God. Matthew 5:16 (ESV) 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
You will not find glory in the things of this world. You have glory in Christ. And on the last day Jesus will raise you from the dead and take you to live with Him forever in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. Amen.