Worship Helps for Pentecost 22
Artwork: Jesus Meeting Mother of James and John
Worship Theme: “I am the greatest,” shouted Muhammad Ali after one of his more famous boxing victories. “I am,” he later added, “the greatest heavy weight of all time.” How would you define greatness? Is it power? Wealth? Fame? In our readings for this Lord’s Day, the Greatest who ever lived, he who died for us all and rose again, shows us that true greatness comes through humble service.
Old Testament: 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. 18 They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God." 19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him. 21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house--leprous, and excluded from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. 22 The other events of Uzziah's reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 Uzziah rested with his fathers and was buried near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, "He had leprosy." And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.
1. What did King Uzziah do wrong that caused God to afflict him with leprosy?
2. Therefore, what couldn’t Uzziah do for the rest of his life? (See 26:21.)
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:7-12, 19-23 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. … 19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
3. Did Paul and Barnabas have a right to be paid for the labors among the Corinthians?
4. Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas make use of this right? (See 9:12.)
5. Why was Paul so adaptable and flexible in his ministry methods? What was his goal?
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask." 36 "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. 37 They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." 38 "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?" 39 "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared." 41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 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."
6. How did the disciples define greatness?
7. According to Jesus, how should we define greatness?
1. In his pride, Uzziah went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the golden incense altar inside the holy place. Only priests were allowed there.
2. For the rest of his life, due to his skin disease, Uzziah could not enter even the outdoor courts of the LORD’S temple where other Jewish people could go.
3. Yes, Paul and Barnabas had a right to be paid for their gospel work. Both logic (Paul cites soldiers, vineyard owners and shepherds in 9:7, and plowmen and threshers in 9:10) and the Old Testament (Paul cites Deuteronomy 25:4 in 9:9) show that Paul and Barnabas had a right to be paid. Pastors and other hard-working servants of the gospel today have the same right.
4. Paul and Barnabas did not make use of their right, so as not to hinder the gospel of Christ when they were in Corinth.
5. Paul was so adaptable and flexible in his ministry methods so that all in all, he might save some people (9:22) and that he might share in the gospel’s benefits himself (9:23).
6. Jesus’ disciples considered greatness to be a position of honor among themselves. They considered greatness to be having a seat right next to Jesus when he came into his glory.
7. Jesus, the Great One, gave us the greatest example of greatness. He humbly offered his life to pay for the freedom of all mankind from eternal death. True greatness comes through humble service. May we follow Christ’s example of humble service, not out of selfish ambition, but out of thanks and love to him who loved us first.
Putting your faith into action
How easily we forget that there is no place in the kingdom for lording it over those around us! Again and again Jesus teaches us that we are called to serve, imitating his loving service. May this portion of God’s Word serve as a reminder for us to humbly acknowledge the gifts he’s given us and to use them in the service of others.
The adversaries not only require invocation in worshiping the saints, but also apply the merits of the saints to others. They make the saints not only intercessors, but also people who make atonement. This cannot be tolerated. Here honor that belongs to Christ alone is completely transferred to the saints. The adversaries make them mediators and atonement makers. Although they distinguish between mediators of intercession and mediators of redemption, they plainly make the saints mediators of redemption. Without the testimony of Scripture, they declare that the saints are mediators of intercession. This, be it said ever so reverently, still clouds over Christ’s office and transfers to the saints the confidence of mercy belonging to Christ. People imagine that Christ is stricter and the saints more easily appeased. They trust the saints’ mercy rather than Christ’s mercy. They flee from Christ and seek the saints. So they actually make the saints mediators of redemption.
By the Word of God we certainly know that God wants to listen to those calling upon Christ, “Whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you” (John 16:23). We also have the command to call upon Christ:
“Come to Me, all who labor.” (Matthew 11:28) – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXI, Saints, paragraphs 14-15, 17-18