Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
Greetings dear saints of God!
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To hear how you, like the apostles St. James the Elder and his brother John, don't know what you are asking and yet still are served by your forgiving God, click on the MP3 audio link provided above.
Thanks be to God He always come to serve us selfish and ungrateful sinners.
Your servant of the Word,
Here is the preaching manuscript.
TEXT: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to [Jesus] and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
Dear people of Trinity, dear people of God:
Does that sound familiar? When you pray does it come out sounding like that old song:
GIMME DAT DING
(written by Albert Hammond / Mike Hazelwood; recorded by Pipkins)
That's right, that's right
I'm sad and blue
'Cause I can't do the Boogaloo
I'm lost, I'm lost
Can't do my thing
That's why I sing
Gimme, Gimme Dat Ding ah..
Gimme Dat, Gimme Dat
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme Dat
Gimme Dat Ding, Gimme Dat
Gimme, Gimme Dat, Gimme Dat Ding
Gimme Dat, Gimme, Gimme Dat,
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Dat Ding
As my mom used to say to us kids, "Gimme's dead."
And doesn't it sound awfully pretentious and just plain wrong as you hear the disciples make demands of God, in effect turning the tables as if they themselves were God? "We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Just who do they think they are?
Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn't lay down the law and play the God card--yet. He plays the game with them for just a while longer, and lets them have a little more rope. 36And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" 37And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 38Jesus said to them, "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?" 39And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
See that picture on today's bulletin cover? It illustrates that old saying, "Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it"—in spades.
That's what they were asking for—death, even death on a cross. For therein was and is the glory of the Son of God. This is what He was sent by the Father to do, with one thief at His right hand and another at His left hand. It is that glory of which the prophets foretold. And it is that glory the apostles, evangelists, and pastors to this day have proclaimed for the salvation of sinners throughout world and to the end of the age.
Brothers James and John, would indeed get their request in a way--the glory to die eventually, as do we all, because of that sinful selfishness that really is all about playing and being god. And with the exception of John who died of natural causes while in exile for His proclamation of Christ and Him crucified, James and all the apostles of our Lord including the later called Paul, died the death of martyrs, as had many of the prophets before them. "Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2He killed James the brother of John with the sword." Acts 12:1-2
And yet, for those who have been called and chosen by God in Holy Baptism and therefore buried into Christ's death, the fleshly death that is sure to come is but a prelude to the greater victory and the even more certain hope of resurrection with that same Christ Jesus our Lord. Truly "The cup that [Jesus] drink [all of His people] will drink, and with the baptism with which [He is] baptized, [all of His people] will be baptized"—both sacramentally and in their sanctified lives in the body of Christ.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29
Still this is most difficult to believe, because it goes against every instinct and perception and fiber of the sinful nature of our being. We see that evidenced by the reaction of the disciples who, truth be told wanted the very same thing, as "when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.
Which means it is time for Jesus to teach them all that the Gimme in them has to die.
42And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:35-45
Here Jesus the very Son of God, who is the Father and giver of all that is good and beneficial to us, who in fact will die for these selfish Gimme monsters, shows the foolishness of all this fighting over who will be closest to God and share in His glory. The glory of God is to give like only He can give. And He has chosen this motley Gimme crew to receive that which He has appointed to them in order that they will become the givers of His glory to the whole world.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
Therefore, because our Father in heaven most certainly knows better than we what is best for us, what will glorify His Son and how we will be made part of that glory, when we pray, rather than beseeching God with James and John and all sinful flesh to "do for us whatever we ask of you," let us pray the prayer our Lord taught James and his brother John and all the disciples. Please turn to page 324 in your hymnals and pray the The Third Petition of The Lord's Prayer, as well as it's meaning with me now:
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
[What does this mean?] The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
[How is God's will done?] God's will is done when He break and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God's name or let His kingdom; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.
No, dear people of God, when you pray those gimme prayers, truly, "you do not know what you are asking." But, as He did with His apostle James, God takes you from gimme to giver. And He accomplishes His good and gracious will in you by the work of the Holy Spirit who comes to you in Christ's church today and even to the end of the age through the water, and the Word, and the bread & wine that forgives you all of your sins to strengthen and keep you firm in His Word and faith until you die—in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
Send Rev. Kurt Hering an email.