Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Tommy Smith, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 22 April 2018.
WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO BE GREAT?
Everyone likes to be number one – we want to be in the winner’s circle. What does it really mean to be great? When we are in the winning soccer team, a wealthy individual with a high net worth, or a person with many titles and educational degrees, we think we are great. What makes us great in the eyes of God? What does greatness look like to God? What does it really mean to be great in the Kingdom of God? Greatness in God’s Kingdom has nothing to do with our physical beauty, financial well-being, educational attainment, or occupational advancement. Greatness in the eyes of God lies in our willingness to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God – Mark 10:35-45 and Matthew 20:20-28. From these verses we can learn the 5Rs.
James and John came to Jesus with a request - to let one of them sit at God’s right and the other at His left in God’s glory.
Jesus refused and said that they do not know what they were asking for.
Jesus began to explain the rules of the games. Jesus told them the restrictions to be in God’s glory. Jesus asked them if they were able to drink the cup He drinks and to be baptized with the baptism He was baptised with (Mark 10:38) and they automatically responded that they could fulfil the rules of the games.
Jesus explained to James and John that the cup and the baptism symbolised the sufferings of Christ. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s will and experienced the cup of agony, pain, loneliness, anguish and the wrath of God. When Jesus spoke about baptism, he was referring to being immersed in the sufferings of Christ. Jesus was not talking about the baptism at the Jordan River. The disciples were resentful because James and John were trying to get to find favour with Jesus.
How much does it cost to be great in the Kingdom of God? It cost the disciples their lives. Andrew took the Gospel to China. Thomas took the Gospel to India. James was the first of the disciples to be beheaded by King Herod. John was the youngest among the disciples. John was exiled to the Island of Patmos. John suffered for the testimony of Jesus Christ. While in Patmos, God gave John the Book of Revelations. John had to suffer so the Church of God could be blessed.
What is the practise of true greatness in our daily life? The Bible gives us many role models and paradigm that we can follow. It is the willingness to suffer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must live it out in our daily life. Are we willing to serve God daily? Being a living sacrifice is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). 2 Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves.” We are to live for Christ daily.
Paul understood suffering for Christ. He said he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3 – we must endure hardships like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Paul was beaten, tortured for the sake of the Gospel.
Check our heart’s motives of following Christ. Jesus says we cannot be a big boss but be a servant leader. Jesus took the towel and washed the feet of His disciples. Sacrifice in the New Testament is a living sacrifice, not a burnt dead sacrifice. God wants us to live for Him. Guard our hearts daily. Don’t keep rubbish in our hearts. Don’t let jealousy destroy our heart, for jealousy will cripple us so that we cannot function as what Jesus has called us to be.
There are 4 Ts that we could give to God as pleasing sacrifice to God - Time, Talent, Treasury and Trust. We don’t own this life anymore. This life belongs to Jesus who died for us. Use our life for the Kingdom’s cause. We all have something to give to the Lord.
Many times we have to sacrifice so that we can serve God. Do what is right for God to bless us. Use the blessings that God has given us to bless others. Trust God, for the just shall live by faith. God is the rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. Can we trust God with our finances and future? Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. Are we willing to be a living sacrifice for the expansion of God’s Kingdom? God’s calling for each one of us for a life of true greatness.