The Rise and Fall

October 7, 2021

Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom" (Matthew 20:20-21).

When Jesus called the 12 to be His disciples, they left everything to follow Him - well, almost everything. They left their jobs and families, friends and fortunes to follow Jesus. They confessed Him as the Messiah, the Lord and Savior of Israel. But they did not leave their national pride and personal ambition. It is apparent in many of their discussions with Jesus that they anticipated a ‘pay day’ one day when He would be exalted as Israel’s Messiah.

When Jesus repeatedly told them, and demonstrated to them, that He would be a suffering Messiah, they recoiled. It was not their idea to suffer with Jesus. They wanted to reign with Him. They believed their sacrifice in following Him would result in sharing His glory. When Jesus told them (Matthew 19:23-24), Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, Peter responded (Matthew 19:27), See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have? Jesus answered (Matthew 19:28-29) Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. Sadly, the disciples took these words to mean in an earthly, political kingdom.

This same attitude can be seen and heard in Christianity today. The ‘What’s in it for me’ attitude continues to trip up followers of Jesus. Not long ago a family came to the church wanting to join with us. The first words they spoke were “How can this church benefit us?” rather than asking “How can we serve the Lord here with you.” They went church shopping somewhere else.

We admire and revere President Kennedy when he said in his 1961 Presidential Inaugural Address, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” The nation was inspired by those words. Not anymore, and sadly not much in the church. We have become a nation of consumers who believe in entitlement, not service. Unfortunately the church has bought into it. It reflects the rise of personal pride and the fall of spiritual humility. 

“Father, King Solomon said ‘A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.’ We are seeing today the exaltation of pride and the decline of honor. What is sin and shame in Your eyes has become celebrated among us. Humbleness is condemned as weakness. Pride is exalted as strength. Forgive us for our arrogance. Bring us back to a place of humbleness before You. In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.”


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