Sermon Transcript – What Christ Accomplished in Lowliness

Series B – Fifth Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 21, 2021 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
Intro bumper
Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint mark
0:30the 10th chapter
0:32glory to you oh lord
0:36and james and john the sons of zebedee
0:39came up to Jesus and said to him
0:42teacher we want you to do for us
0:44whatever we ask of you
0:45and he said to them what do you want me
0:47to do for you and they said to him
0:49grant us to sit one at your right hand
0:51and one at your left in your glory
0:53Jesus said to them you don’t know what
0:55you’re asking
0:56are you able to drink the cup that i
0:58drink or to be baptized with the baptism
1:00with which i am baptized
1:02they said to him we are able and Jesus
1:05said to them
1:06the cup that i drink you will drink and
1:08with the baptism with which i am
1:10baptized you will be baptized
1:12but to sit at my right hand or my left
1:14is not mine to grant
1:15but it is for those for whom it has been
1:19and when the ten heard it they began to
1:22indignant at james and john and Jesus
1:25called them to him and said to them
1:28you know that those who are considered
1:30rulers of the gentiles lorded over them
1:32and their great ones exercise authority
1:34over them
1:35but it shall not be so among you but
1:38whoever would be great among you must be
1:40your servant and whoever would be first
1:42among you must be the slave of all for
1:45even the son of man came not to be
1:48but to serve and to give his life as a
1:51ransom for many
1:52this is the gospel of the lord in the
1:54name of Jesus
1:57a little bit of a warning up front the
1:59people who are control freaks are not
2:01going to like
2:02this sermon your toes are going to be
2:04stepped on and rightly so
2:06and you’re going to be called to repent
2:07in the sermon and
2:09we got to note this there’s a little
2:10control freak in each and every one of
2:13which is why we have the first
2:15commandment you will have no other gods
2:17before me
2:19and that includes you you
2:22oftentimes make yourself out to be your
2:24own god
2:26keep that in mind so you’ve been warned
2:28ahead of time
2:29don’t blame me if you don’t like the
2:32our text today in this text Jesus says
2:36to his disciples you know that those who
2:39are considered rulers of the gentiles
2:42listen to the word they lord it over
2:45lord it and they’re great ones they
2:48exercise authority
2:49over them but it shall not be so among
2:53but whoever would be great among you
2:55must be your servant
2:56whoever would be first among you must be
2:59the slave
3:00of all and even the son of man came not
3:02to be
3:03served and that’s the rub isn’t it the
3:05people who are the control freaks the
3:07reason why they’re in control is because
3:09really it’s all about serving them their
3:12desires their needs their passions
3:14their agendas but the son of man did not
3:16come to be served but to serve
3:18and to give his life as a ransom for
3:21let’s talk today about the will to power
3:23shall we
3:24it’s a relevant discussion oh
3:28the political rhetoric is all about it
3:31we’ll start with something simple you
3:32guys remember the movie back to the
3:34i love that movie i’m a child of the 80s
3:36went and saw it in the theaters
3:38but that’s a different story altogether
3:40yes i know i’m old and i look like it
3:42but in back to the future marty mcfly
3:44travels back in time to 1955
3:47to the town where he his parents grew up
3:51and he finds himself in a diner in the
3:53downtown area of his small town
3:56and there he runs into a fellow who was
3:59sweeping the floors
4:01a person of color by the name of goldie
4:04right and goldie wilson was talking
4:07about the need to
4:08clean up the town and what does marty
4:12say to him you know you’re right you’re
4:15gonna be
4:16mayor and what does goldie wilson do
4:19mayor i like the sound of that
4:23and then he tells his boss when i’m
4:24mayor i’m gonna clean up this town
4:26what does his boss say good start by
4:28sweeping the floors
4:30right but you’ll note that that that
4:33that desire to be in charge
4:37to clean up the town you know we’re all
4:39tempted by this
4:41but here’s the thing and this is the rub
4:45is that this will to power on our part
4:49so often is so tainted with sin that we
4:52become the most like the devil
4:54when we desire sinfully
4:57to be in charge
5:02consider this text isaiah 14 says this
5:06oh how you have fallen from heaven o day
5:09son of the dawn talking about the devil
5:12how you are cut down to the ground you
5:15who laid low the nations
5:17you said in your heart i will ascend to
5:19heaven above the stars of god
5:21i will set my throne on high i will sit
5:25on the mount of the assembly in the far
5:26reaches of the north
5:27i will ascend above the heights of the
5:30clouds and i will make myself like the
5:33most high
5:38but you are brought down to shayol to
5:40the far reaches
5:42of the pit think of it this way there’s
5:44a lot of talk
5:45right now in fact i would argue that
5:48there is a
5:48lot of malicious bickering going on in
5:51our country right
5:52now about what privilege privilege right
5:56who has more of it who has systemic
5:59versions of it oh and then along with
6:02the talk about privilege
6:03and those who should have it and those
6:05who should have it taken away from them
6:07there’s talk of reparations too
6:09reparations for slavery and things like
6:12and what is it all all of this is about
6:14the will
6:15to power and the idea that somehow if we
6:19just elect
6:20the right people put them in office
6:23they’re going to fix everything and
6:25we’re going to experience utopia
6:31brothers and sisters what is broken in
6:33our world what is broken in you
6:35cannot be fixed by a politician
6:39it can’t what is broken in each and
6:42every one of us
6:43has to be fixed on a different level all
6:47and i would note this that the current
6:50political atmosphere is so fully
6:53charged about this talk of privilege and
6:56power and all this kind of nonsense
6:58that it’s dividing churches it’s
7:00dividing our nation it’s dividing
7:03if you don’t agree with the prevailing
7:06well you’re just not woke and you’re out
7:10or if you agree with woke you’re just
7:12stupid and you’re out
7:15right this is how this goes and
7:18one of the most politically charged
7:20things i’ve heard
7:21is the attacks against Christianity on
7:24this ground here’s the ground
7:26Christianity and the bible condones
7:30it is the bi it is the bible that was
7:32used to enslave
7:34people of color around the world and we
7:36need to get rid of the bible you
7:38Christians are condoning slavery
7:40i want to make something very clear that
7:41in our gospel text Christ not only
7:43condones slavery
7:45he’s demanding it of every one of his
7:49you and me we’re not talking about the
7:52kind of slavery where
7:54somebody is enslaved and held bondage
7:57against their
7:58will we’re talking about the slavery
8:00that comes when
8:01someone recognizes that what we are
8:04called to do
8:05is to not serve ourselves
8:08but to serve our neighbors and in all
8:11this political
8:12rhetoric that’s running around right now
8:13you know what i don’t hear
8:15i don’t hear about forgiveness i don’t
8:18hear about
8:18mercy i don’t hear about grace
8:22it’s disgusting i’m sick of it
8:28and all of this has everything to do
8:30with our gospel text
8:33now for the control freak in you that
8:35wants to be in charge
8:37isaiah chapter 47 has this to say
8:41now therefore hear this you lovers of
8:42pleasure who sit securely and who say in
8:44your heart
8:45i am and there is no one besides me
8:49and that’s the rub isn’t it that’s
8:51really the issue
8:53when we want to be in charge we want to
8:55call the shots
8:57we are saying we know better than god in
8:59fact we want to be god
9:01and like the devil we believe if only i
9:03were elected if only i were put in
9:05i will ascend i will make do i will make
9:08it all happen
9:10history is littered with men who promise
9:12these exact
9:14same things remember the bolsheviks
9:17they promised a worker’s paradise in the
9:20soviet union how did that work out
9:24remember hitler he promised a millennial
9:27reich for the volk for the
9:30for the people how did that work out
9:34and then you think of castro and che
9:36guevara and mountain
9:38right even in our own days we have our
9:41own versions of this
9:43i remember when obama was elected and
9:45people thought that the messiah had come
9:49it was weird right and then trump got
9:52elected and they thought he was the
9:56you see the problem here what’s broken
9:59here cannot be fixed by them
10:03and the one who thinks that they can
10:05pull this all off
10:07well and the one who says that i am
10:09there’s no one besides me
10:11i shall not sit as a widow or know the
10:13loss of children
10:15these two things shall come to you in a
10:16moment all in a day the loss of children
10:18widowhood shall come upon you
10:20in full measure in spite of your many
10:24and your great power and your
10:28now it seems a little odd to kind of
10:30talk about idolatry
10:32in terms of sorcery but we have a
10:34cross-reference here
10:35in first samuel where it says that the
10:37sin of rebellion against god is as the
10:39sin of witchcraft and adultery
10:41adultery i witchcraft and sorcery there
10:45we go there’s the
10:46one of the words witchcraft and sorcery
10:48you say how so
10:49if you know anything about the occult
10:50what is the occult really all about
10:52it’s about learning the right spells
10:54it’s about learning the right
10:56making the right mixtures and potions so
10:59that you can control
11:00nature you can control your neighbor
11:03you can control your own fate
11:06that’s what’s at the heart of sorcery
11:09and witchcraft
11:10it’s idolatry and it’s self idolatry
11:14so here in our gospel text
11:17we need to back up in the context just a
11:20little bit
11:21back up to verse 32 in mark chapter 10
11:25and here’s our context it’s rather
11:26fascinating it says
11:28the disciples were on the road they were
11:30going up to jerusalem
11:31and Jesus was walking ahead of them
11:35so here’s the context they’re all
11:36heading towards jerusalem there’s a
11:38group there’s the disciples and everyone
11:40else is following along and Jesus is in
11:42the lead
11:43and they’re leaving him a little bit of
11:45space right and they’re all going
11:48this is it this is it Jesus is going to
11:51be king
11:52oh i might be proud i might be the guy
11:54who’s like second in command
11:56can i be the grand vizier oh he’s gonna
11:58hand out
11:59all these illustrious beautiful ministry
12:02opportunities for us we’ll have power
12:05we’ll have wealth
12:06we’ll have a security forever oh
12:09so they were amazed those who followed
12:12were afraid
12:14so Jesus knowing full well what’s going
12:16on took the disciples
12:17again the text says again and he said to
12:22we are going up to jerusalem the son of
12:25man will be delivered over to the chief
12:27priests and the scribes they will
12:30condemn him to death
12:31deliver him over to the gentiles they
12:34will mock him
12:35spit on him and flog him and kill him
12:38and after three days he will rise
12:42seems pretty straightforward right
12:45pretty simple
12:47well Jesus apparently was shooting bbs
12:50at a brick wall here
12:51because that didn’t
12:54sink in and you’ll note that in Jesus’s
12:58earthly ministry there was
12:59zero talk of him going to jerusalem
13:03to set up an earthly kingdom at no point
13:06in Jesus ministry do you even get the
13:09that he’s heading to jerusalem in order
13:11to be crowned the king of israel
13:14at least not in the sense that human
13:15beings are talking about in fact over
13:17and over and over again Jesus told them
13:21what was going to transpire and remember
13:23the first time that Jesus revealed what
13:25was going to transpire what did peter do
13:27he took Jesus aside and rebuked him
13:32and Jesus said to him get behind me
13:37now in this regard
13:40i enjoyed preparing for the sermon by
13:43reading some of the sermons that the
13:45early church fathers did on this text
13:47one in particular stood out john
13:48Christostem’s sermon on this text
13:50here he talks about the mistaken premise
13:53of their request
13:54the request of the disciples here’s what
13:56it’s here’s what john chrysostom said
13:58the disciples were expecting Jesus to
14:00enter into the kingdom
14:02but not to go to the cross and to death
14:05even though they had heard it ten
14:07thousand times
14:08they could not clearly understand since
14:11they had got not gotten a clear and
14:13certain knowledge of his teaching
14:14they thought that he was going to this
14:17visible kingdom
14:18and would rule in jerusalem so the sons
14:21of zebedees
14:22caught up with him on the road and they
14:25thought that they had found
14:26the opportune moment so they put their
14:29to Jesus and they had broken away from
14:32the throng of the disciples just as if
14:33the whole situation had turned out
14:35exactly as they wanted
14:36and they asked about the privilege of
14:39the first
14:40seats oh there it is see Christos
14:43all the way back in what the 5th 6th
14:47is preaching about privilege does
14:51anything change
14:52does anything change no they were asking
14:54about the privilege of the first seats
14:56and about being the first among others
14:58so they asked for this because they
14:59assumed that everything was finished
15:01and that the whole business was over and
15:03done with and they made their request
15:05because they thought that
15:06now was the time for crowns and rewards
15:12is today the day of crowns and rewards
15:14yeah no
15:16that that’s not until Christ returns
15:19putting it another way
15:22their timing was precisely wrong for
15:24this was not
15:25the right time for crowns or prizes it
15:28was the time for struggles
15:30for contests for toils for sweat
15:33for wrestling and battles you almost
15:37remember churchill’s speech that he gave
15:40the beginning of world war ii i promised
15:42nothing but blood
15:44toil sweat right
15:47that’s what we have to face now as
15:51this is not the time for rewards and
15:55and so with that consider then how the
15:58request went down
16:00james and john we learned from another
16:01gospel that their mom was involved
16:04okay they were they didn’t even have the
16:06guts to do this themselves
16:07they got mom involved right who does
16:10that right
16:12so they came up to Jesus and said
16:14teacher we want you to do for us
16:15whatever we ask of you
16:17and he said then all right what do you
16:19want me to do for you and they said to
16:21him grant us to sit one at your right
16:22hand and one at your left
16:24in your glory now some of the other
16:26church fathers know
16:28that they rightly understood that they
16:30did have a place a very important place
16:32in Christ’s ministry
16:34and in the kingdom and we learned from
16:36the book of revelation
16:37that these disciples these apostles of
16:39Christ are part of the
16:4024 elders if you would so they even have
16:44place of honor in the heavenly kingdom
16:46but again we have to recognize the now
16:48and the not yet aspects of the kingdom
16:51and so they don’t even know what they’re
16:52talking about they don’t even know what
16:53they’re asking that’s what Jesus said
16:55you don’t know what you’re asking for
16:57and then he says this he asks them the
16:59two questions are you able to drink the
17:00cup that i drink or to be baptized with
17:02the baptism with which i am baptized
17:04ooh cup and baptism talking you know
17:07it’s as if
17:08Christ is somehow making a little veiled
17:10reference regarding the waters of
17:12baptism in his blood and
17:13also the lord’s supper and his blood now
17:16i think that’s a pretty good little
17:18all pointing back to his sufferings well
17:21they said to him we are able
17:23of course they don’t know what he’s
17:24talking about okay they think in glory
17:26Christ is talking death he’s talking
17:28suffering he’s talking persecution
17:30and so Jesus said to them and this is
17:32where they should have said oh
17:34the cup that i drink you will drink and
17:36with the baptism with which i am
17:38baptized you will be baptized
17:40but to sit at my right hand or my left
17:42is not mine to grant
17:43but it is for those for whom it has been
17:48now in this regard then i loved what
17:51augustine had to say
17:52regarding this text and it’s in the
17:55augustine sermon on this text he makes a
17:57big distinction between
17:59the loftiness of privilege versus
18:02the lowliness of Christ next week’s
18:05epistle text is going to be that
18:06wonderful text from philippians
18:08chapter 2 where it says that our
18:10attitude should be the same as Christ
18:13who though he was by nature god did not
18:15consider equality with god a thing to be
18:17but he humbled himself he humbled
18:20himself as found in the form of a
18:21servant and was obedient to the point of
18:24even death on the cross and so the idea
18:26here is is that
18:27when you think of power when you think
18:29of glory think of it in terms of
18:31loftiness but then what Christ
18:35accomplished he accomplished not in
18:38he accomplished it in lowliness so
18:40augustine says this
18:42ponder how profound this is they were
18:44conferring with him about
18:46glory he intended to precede loftiness
18:50with humility and only through humility
18:54to ready the way for loftiness
18:55itself for of course even those
18:57disciples who wanted to sit one on his
18:59right and the other on his left
19:01they were looking to glory they were on
19:04the lookout but did not
19:06see by what way in order that they might
19:09come to their homeland and do
19:11order the lord called them back to the
19:13narrow way
19:14and augustine’s point is something along
19:16the lines of this
19:17i remember when i was when i was a kid
19:20growing up one of the things we did we
19:22we did a lot of hiking and so we like to
19:25particular trails and mountains and
19:27stuff like that one of my favorite hikes
19:29when i was a kid growing up
19:30was to go to the top of mount baden
19:33powell in southern california i i
19:36summited mount baden-powell a couple of
19:38times but one thing i remember
19:39very clearly about that particular trail
19:42is that it starts off pretty easy but
19:45the next thing you know it’s switch back
19:48after switch back after switch back and
19:50oh my goodness
19:52the ascent is torture it was
19:56actually pretty hard even as a young man
19:58and there was sweat involved and dust
20:01and there were times when you were your
20:03legs were aching so much and you kept
20:05looking up and going
20:06how many more switchbacks are there
20:10and so you trudge along it got to the
20:11point where at times it felt like the
20:13only thing i could do to survive the
20:15switchbacks was just to watch
20:17my feet watch my boots and just put one
20:21in front of the other in front of the
20:23other in front of the other
20:25but eventually the switchbacks give way
20:27to more
20:28um a more steady ascent and then you
20:32finally summit mount baden pal and when
20:34you do
20:35it’s absolutely glorious especially if
20:38you do it on like a clear day in
20:39southern california
20:40you’d look out over the whole southern
20:42california basin
20:44and in fact ben pal is high enough that
20:48the basin you can actually see parts of
20:50the pacific ocean it’s absolutely
20:52beautiful one time when i summoned it we
20:54actually ascended through the clouds
20:56and when we got to the top it was like
20:58looking down on this blanket of pillowy
21:00white stuff with the sun gloriously
21:02shining and it was so
21:03beautifully cool and stuff it was it was
21:06a june day that particular day
21:07but our our trip to the glorious kingdom
21:11of Christ
21:12is like that what they wanted was the
21:17but they didn’t want the switchbacks
21:20but that’s not what we’re called to as
21:22Christians we’re called to the lowly
21:25difficult trudging
21:29working through the difficult trails
21:33slowly methodically in pain
21:36and that’s the idea and so augustine
21:39then says
21:40home the homeland is life in Christ but
21:43the way is dying with Christ
21:45the way is suffering with Christ and the
21:48goal is abiding with him eternally
21:51so why do you seek the homeland if
21:54you’re not
21:54seeking the actual way to get to it it’s
21:57a good question
21:58that he asks and in that particular
22:00sense then consider
22:02Christos last thoughts on this Christos
22:06points out that we we
22:09seek loftiness and think that through
22:11loftiness and glory that we can
22:13accomplish things but i would argue this
22:15the ones who’ve tried to attain
22:18perfection in this life or give us
22:20things by
22:21loftiness and glory and power they are
22:25the big wrecks of human history and they
22:29nothing in fact this oftentimes creeps
22:32into our
22:33thinking i think again of the
22:35purpose-driven movement that
22:36over and again has changed the great
22:38commission from go and make disciples to
22:41go and make a difference
22:43hitler made a difference it wasn’t a
22:45good one but he made a difference
22:47and that’s not what we’re called to do
22:48we’re not called to make a difference
22:51we’re called to make disciples and so
22:54then what Christos says that Christ
22:57accomplished and he’s right
22:59not in glory not in loftiness but what
23:02Christ accomplished
23:03in lowliness listen to the list
23:07Christ erased the curse he triumphed
23:10over death
23:11he opened paradise he struck down sin
23:14he opened wide the vaults of heaven he
23:17lifted up our first fruits to heaven he
23:20filled the whole earth with godliness
23:22he drove out error and he led back the
23:26he made our first fruits mount to the
23:28royal throne
23:29he accomplished so many good deeds that
23:32neither i nor all of humanity together
23:34could set them before your minds in
23:36words before he humbled himself
23:39only the angels knew him and after he
23:41humbled himself
23:42all human nature knew him you see
23:45how his humbling of himself did not make
23:48him have less
23:49but produced countless benefits
23:52countless deeds of virtue
23:53and made his glory shine forth with
23:56greater brightness
23:57god wants for nothing and has no has
24:00need of nothing
24:01yet when Christ humbled himself
24:04he produced such great good increased
24:08his household
24:09extended his kingdom why then on earth
24:12are you afraid that you will become less
24:15if you humble yourself
24:19and isn’t that what it is well if i
24:22humble myself and i make myself a slave
24:24to all
24:24as Christ has said then i’ll become less
24:27and i’ll do less
24:30that’s the devil’s lie the one who
24:33exalts himself will be humbled the one
24:35who humbles himself will be exalted
24:37Christ says
24:40you really want to do something serve at
24:43the bottom
24:46believe what Christ says here the
24:48greatest among us
24:49are servants and slaves
24:52and he modeled this for us because the
24:55greatest the king of kings and lord of
24:58god the almighty son of god was
25:01found in the form of a servant
25:04was born of the virgin mary laid down
25:07his life
25:08suffered under pontius pilate and
25:10through his lowliness
25:12he’s accomplished more in human history
25:16than everybody who tried to accomplish
25:18things through loftiness
25:20and glory Christ did it through
25:26so what’s the point we need to repent
25:30we got it all wrong
25:34the lies of the devil the world your own
25:35sinful flesh it’s all about glorifying
25:38exalting you you being in charge put it
25:42away deny yourself take up your cross
25:45and follow Christ
25:47for this Jesus just like he said he did
25:49go to jerusalem
25:50he was arrested he was flogged he was
25:55beaten so badly you wouldn’t have even
25:57recognized him and after that
25:58they nailed him to a cross he was
26:00suspended between heaven and earth
26:02bleeding for all
26:03of your vain glorious desires
26:06and actions to exalt yourself over god
26:10others to make others serve you rather
26:13than you
26:14serving god he bled and died for all of
26:20and as for those seats at the right hand
26:24and the left in the book of exodus
26:27we remember that moses asked to see the
26:29glory of god
26:32he asked to see it and god wouldn’t
26:34allow him to see it
26:36god instead came up with a other idea
26:39god took moses and he hid them in a
26:41cleft of a rock while he made all of his
26:43glory pass by
26:45and while god’s glory was passing by
26:48moses didn’t hear the
26:49didn’t see the glory of god but he heard
26:51it and he heard these words
26:53yahweh yahweh slow to anger
26:57abounding instead vast love pardoning
27:00iniquity it is the glory of god to
27:03forgive us of our sins
27:05so Christ enters into his true glory
27:08in the glory of god in that sense when
27:10he is on the cross bleeding and dying
27:12for our sins
27:14and that day the men who were chosen to
27:16be on his right hand
27:18and on his left were two thieves he was
27:21crucified between the two of them
27:23is it any wonder that Jesus says you
27:25don’t know what you’re asking for
27:28and so brothers and sisters we too like
27:30the disciples
27:31are called to deny ourselves to suffer
27:35to be persecuted to struggle to toil
27:39now this is not the time for crowns and
27:42this is the time for slavery Christ has
27:46set us free from slavery to sin death
27:48and the devil
27:49so that we can freely be slaves to
27:50others and love them
27:53as Christ has loved us so let us repent
27:56lay down our idolatry and our vain glory
27:59receive the forgiveness so
28:00freely one for us by Christ on the cross
28:04and let us now take up our crosses and
28:06follow him
28:07as he leads us home in the name of Jesus
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