Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2005
The Final Journey
[Title] The Final Journey
[Text] Mark 10:32-Mark 11:25
[Use] May 21, 2005
The separation between church and state issue heated up again this week in the Seattle, Washington area of the United States. The morning of May 16 a headline was available to Internet users whose web browser is set to My Yahoo! Today. Anyone in the world who clicked on the link entitled "Free Speech Debate" saw a streaming video clip of the Washington State BMW automobile license plate that reads: John 3:16. (1)
In America such a license plate is known as a vanity plate. The custom plate has letters and or numbers selected by the automobile owner. Vanity plates cost more than the standard issue ones and can be renewed annually. The John 3:16 license plate has been renewed for the past 21 years by owner Jane Milhans.
On the video Jane recites audibly the full text of the Scripture: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not parish but have ever lasting life."
A Pierce County woman complained to the [Washington] State Department of Licensing that she was offended that she had to be "prayed over by a license plate." Milhans sees her right to free speech as a greater issue than the accuser's challenge of the need for separation of state issues from religious ones. Jane is appealing the challenge before a review board.
In our lesson today we find vanity of another sort, inflated pride in oneself. In our study of Mark 9:33 last week, the disciples had been arguing amongst themselves trying to determine who was the greatest on Jesus' team. Jesus said then that anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and have a servant-heart.
James and John appear to have a short memory. How vain must one be to tell Jesus, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask...Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." (Chapter 10 Verses 35 & 37, NIV) Talk about the disciples being thick-headed and not understanding their mission statement and what Jesus CEO was all about! There is a vast difference between the kingdom they were thinking about and the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus had represented to them on earth by nature miracles, healing miracles, resurrection miracles, casting out demons in the name of his Father in heaven and restoring sight to one blind from birth.
The Master Teacher gave James and John freedom of speech. He takes the teaching moment to reinforce the same lesson on what one must do to be great: "...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Verses 43 & 45, NIV).
For many church governing boards, it is the time of the year to choose church officers. In July the General Conference will meet in world session to confirm or elect new officers. But you say, "No one in our denomination or local congregation would be as bold and foolish as James and John to say, 'We want you to do for us whatever we ask.'" Really?
In your church or organization does everyone have a servant's heart? Or does your church temple need to be cleared out by Jesus?
(1) Text of My Yahoo! News Today video, Monday, May 16, 2005 can be viewed at: