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W.D.J.D. - What DID Jesus Do? He Showed Love When It Wasn't Convenient

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

Sermon

I want to start off with a little hand raising exercise this morning…. And don’t worry, no one’s going to judge you, you’ll notice my hand is up for all of these questions... Could I get you to raise your hand if you have ever had food delivered to your house? Could I get you to raise your hand if you have a cell phone? Now raise your hand if you have a smartphone. Raise your hand if you are an Amazon Prime member. Raise your hand if you have a video streaming service like netflix, hulu, or amazon prime video. Raise your hand if you use a music streaming service like apple, spotify, or amazon music. Raise your hand if you have a smart device in your home that is NOT your phone. (smart speaker, smart tv, smart thermostat et cetera. If your newspaper gets delivered to you?

It’s safe to say we have become a society that values convenience. I didn’t know I needed to be able to watch my tv shows without commercials until I got Netflix… But now I wouldn’t dream of going back to life with commercials. I didn’t know I need my packages to be delivered within 48 hours of ordering them...but not it’s painful when it takes more than 48 hours for them to get here! And you know what, it’s okay. It’s the world we live in today. We’re not here to preach against Amazon or Netflix today… but it is worthwhile to consider whether or not the ever-more-convenient world that we live in has a negative effect on our spiritual lives. The short answer would be, well of course it can...if we let it. So today we’ll think about how to guard against that.

Now, starting to turn our thoughts toward our text… Have you ever asked yourself the following question: What is it about Jesus’s that inspires me? It’s a good question to ask, because if you can place a finger on some of the specifics traits of Jesus that inspire you and really touch your heart, you might be surprised to find out that those traits are in fact the ones that you are the best at mirroring to those around you…. One of his character traits that has always inspired me is his self-less compassion. There’s a couple places in the Gospels that expressly state that character trait of his… his compassion. Matthew 9 for example says that Jesus looked at the crowds that were following him and "he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." In front of us today we have another example of Jesus’ selfless love and compassion for humanity. Mark doesn’t come right out and name that compassion of Jesus here, but we’re going to see it play out.

Last week in Mark chapter 8 we heard Jesus speak about his death with the disciples. Once again here in Mark chapter 9 we see Jesus speaking about his death. It’s a bit difficult to nail down how much time had passed between the first time he spoke about his death and the second time he spoke about his death… maybe it was a couple days, maybe it was a week… we’re not told. What is clear is this: It was on his mind. It was beginning to weigh on him. Jesus knew that the time for him to take up the cross on behalf of humankind was fast approaching.

Have you ever thought about the psychological implications of that? As humans we sometimes trick ourselves into thinking it would be nice to know the date of our last day here on earth and the circumstances surrounding our death. But can you imagine what a burden it would be if you knew when you were going to die, and not only that, if you knew that your death was going to be equally as horrible as being crucified? Jesus knew his death was fast approaching. And he knew how he would die. He knew the suffering that awaited him as he would take our sin on his own shoulders.

Seeing as this was the second time he had brought it up… it’s pretty clear that this end mission of his was on his mind. It was weighing on him. And yet, once again, his disciples were unable to understand what he was talking about. "32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." Rather than seek to understand what Jesus was going through… Rather than try to be half decent friends for Jesus… They were selfish.

Look at the next verses. "33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." Jesus is nearing his crucifixion… and he seeks for a second time to speak about his death with them. Not only do they not understand… but they’re lost in their own world. They’re arguing about who of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what they were arguing about. And at this point in the game, you might think that would have been a bit discouraging for him. Have you ever worked with someone on a particular issue and no matter how long you work with them, it seems like no progress is made? Jesus had been working alongside and instructing the disciples for years and now his death is approaching, and they’re arguing about who will be the greatest.

Did the disciples deserve some rebuking? Yes, probably. Would it have been out of line for Jesus to… in a sinless way of course… almost snap at the disciples a little to get them to open their eyes at what was about to happen to him? Jesus could have probably rightly done that. But rather than do any of that, we see him to continue to lovingly instruct. And in love in concern for the disciples, he meets them where they’re at. He instructs them on the very thing they were just arguing about.

 

"Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

In the world of convenience in which we live, it is easy for us to get wrapped up in that same argument and frame of mind in which the disciples were caught up in. In our minds, we become the greatest. Our schedules and our to-do lists take top priority. On the one hand we live in a world of convenience. On the other hand we live in a world that seems to be busier than ever. The more convenient things get for us and the further technology progress, the busier we actually become. It’s a little ironic because convenience and technological advances are always promoted by saying they’ll make our lives easier.

Living in a culture that is ever more convenient and yet ever busier is a recipe for disaster when it comes to showing love to one another, and to our neighbor. Because showing love is rarely convenient and it takes time.

In line with this struggle we face in our world today… I can't help but think of the parable of the good samaritan. Have you ever imagined that parable retold in a way that’s fitting for today’s world? Let’s try: There was a man who was in great need. He called one of his church friends to ask if they could help him. They rather sheepishly said no and mumbled something about their long to-do list for the day. The man called another one of his church friends to ask for help and they too rather sheepishly said no and mumbled something about needing to make sure the kids got to all their appointments for the day. Then the man who was in great need walked out into the street and asked the first stranger he saw for help...and that stranger helped him.

We too need to hear those words from Jesus, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all." We can all point to times when, rather than serve others, we have fallen in to the trap of serving only ourselves.

Our Savior showed love at all times and in every way—whether it was convenient or not. It was by no means convenient to take up the cross. It was by no means convenient to die on that cross. The physical and spiritual suffering he went through on behalf of our sin was as far from convenient as you can possibly get. But none of that inconvenience stopped him from loving us. Christ’s love in spite of inconvenience has become your convenience. The sin that was charged to each of us has been paid for. We’ve done nothing to deserve salvation, yet it is given to us through faith. It’s a gift from God. And when Christ inconveniently suffered death on a cross, he paid for every single time we have failed to serve one another in love.

May we leave today, refreshed by that forgiveness. May we go out as servants who serve others in love—regardless of the inconvenience. When we show love to others, and serve others—regardless of the inconvenience that comes along with it—that service and showing of love has the power to change hearts.

We’ll close today with an illustration of that. I’m going to read you a quote from a Christian woman in her 50s. Her name is Rosaria. Rosaria is married. Her husband is a Presbyterian Pastor. Her and her husband do a lot for the community they live in. They have played a vital role in the Christian formation of many many children through fostering and adoption. And every single day they open their home as a place for neighborhood kids to come and hang out after school. This is what Rosaria said, "We noticed, as our attention focused more on families and children, that many people in our community protect themselves from inconvenience as though inconvenience is deadly. We have decided that we are not inconvenienced by inconvenience. The needs of children come up unexpectedly. We are sure that the Good Samaritan had other plans that fateful day. Our plans are not sacred."

So that’s where Rosaria is in her 50s. I want to now back up and tell you where she was in her late 20s and early 30s. She was still dedicated to doing good for the community, but her life looked a little different. At 28 she had declared herself a lesbian and she had a lover. She was an english professor at a public university. She had quickly risen in the ranks. She was well respected as a social activist. How did she get from point A to point B? A pastor and his wife opened their door to her numerous times and spent time with her—inconvenient though it may have been for them. They didn’t seek to attack her for her sexual orientation or political views. Rather, they spoke with her, patiently showed her love, and shared with her the message of the gospel. The service, love and patience they showed her, coupled with the powerful life saving message of the gospel, changed her heart and life.

Rarely is showing love convenient. And if it’s always convenient, we’re probably doing something wrong. If it’s convenient, it’s probably because we’re trying to show love on our terms—which likely means it’s selfish and actually isn’t love at all. The inconvenience of showing love didn’t stop our Savior. It didn’t even cause him to flinch. May we rest in the forgiveness of his inconvenient demonstration of love for us, and then go and do likewise. What DID Jesus do? He showed love when it wasn’t convenient. What does he continue to do today? He continues to shower us with that same love, patience and forgiveness so that we might have the strength to do the same. May we go out to love and serve one another—regardless of the inconvenience that comes with it. Amen.



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