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Lk 4:1-13 · Ro 10:8b-13 · Dt 26:1-11 · Ps 91
This Week's Sermons

The Measure of Greatness
Mark 9:30-37

Some years ago St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City was seeking a new president. Over one hundred candidates applied for the position. The search committee narrowed the list to five eminently qualified persons. Then somebody came up with a brilliant idea: let's send a person to the institutions where each of the five finalists is currently employed, and let's interview the janitor at each place, asking him what he thinks of the man seeking to be our president. This was done and a janitor gave such a glowing appraisal of William MacElvaney that he was selected President of St. Paul's School of Theology.

Somebody on that search committee understood, in a flash of genius, that those who live close to Christ become so secure in his love that they no longer relate to other people according to rank or power or money or prestige. They treat janitors and governors with equal dignity. They regard everybody as a VIP. Children seem to do this intuitively; adult Christians have to relearn it.

It is a telling little piece of scripture in verse 32: "But they did not understand." That's a picture that can be hung in the halls of the museum of mankind. When confronted by true greatness, we simply do not see it...

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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

The Way Up Is Down!
Mark 9:30-37

There once was a palace servant who longed for more than anything else in life to be a knight. He yearned to represent his king and vowed within himself that if he ever had a chance to be a knight he would serve his king as the noblest knight who ever lived. His dream came true. His great day came. At his knighthood ceremony, the former servant, now a knight, made a special oath within himself. He vowed that from that day forward he would bow his knees and lift his arms in homage to no one but his king.

As a knight, he was assigned to guard a remote city on the edge of the kingdom. On the day he took up his duties standing at attention in full armor at the city gate, an elderly peasant woman passed by on her way to the market. In a rickety cart, she carried some vegetables she had grown and hoped to sell. As she passed the knight, her rickety old vegetable cart hit a bump on the road and turned over. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and peas spilled everywhere. The peasant woman scurried to get them all back in her cart to no avail. She looked toward the knight in hopes he would help her but already he had forgotten what it was to be a servant. The knight stood there, unmoved, holding his pose. He would not bend to help her. He just stood at attention keeping his vow to never again bow his knees or lift his arms in homage to anyone but his king.

Years passed, and one day an elderly one-legged man hobbled by on his old crutch. Directly in front of the knight, the old man's crutch finally gave out and broke in two. "Sir knight," the old one-legged man begged, "please reach down and help me to get up again." The knight, unmoved by the old man's predicament, made no response. He held his pose proudly and remembered he had vowed that he would neither stoop nor lift a hand to help anyone but his king.

Decades passed, and the knight grew older. One day his granddaughter came by and said, "Papa, pick me up and take me to the fair." But, even for his own granddaughter the knight would not stoop, for within himself he had made a vow to bow only to his king. Finally, the day came for the king to come. This was the day for which the knight had longed since the day of his knighthood. As the king approached to inspect him, the knight stood proudly and stiffly at attention. As he did, the king noticed a tear rolling down the proud knight's cheek. "You are one of my noblest knights," said the king, "why are you crying?"

"Your majesty," the knight replied, "I took a vow that I would bow and lift my arms in homage to you alone, but now that you are here I am an old man unable to keep my vow any more. The years of standing here stiffly at attention, waiting for you to come, have taken their toll. The joints of my armor are rusted and I can no longer lift my arms or bend my knees." The wise king replied, "Perhaps if you had knelt to help all those people who passed by you, and lifted your arms to reach out to all the people who asked for your help, you would have been able to keep your vow to pay me homage today."

Jesus Christ says, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (v. 35)...

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