ICON ● Part 4 | "Upside Down"

Tired of comparing—and wanting what everyone else has? Let’s flip that narrative upside down and discover the one thing you can do to experience freedom and peace in the life you currently have.

NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.

We've all had embarrassing moments in fact, there's some of our favorite stories when people start talking about their embarrassing moment, you're like, Oh yeah. And then everybody up the other person, but at the same time, there are some embarrassing moments that aren't funny and they'll never be funny, and they make your stomach hurt to talk about.

And Sandra's not here today. She's watching, and I'm not gonna share it. Sweetheart. But anyway, she has this great embarrassing moment story but the point is, we all have those moments that it's just the thought of it, you almost want to freeze up, it was just so embarrassing. Now, a really good pastor or speaker at this point in the message would say, "So let me tell you about one of mine," but I'm neither that good nor that secure, so I'm not gonna tell you when I'm mine.


But see that's where it's going, 'cause a really good communicator would sort of set it up most embarrassing moment until one of his or her own, but I'm not. Instead, I wanna tell you about the most embarrassing moment for two of Jesus apostles, and when it happened, they weren't embarrassed in the moment, but they were embarrassed in the moments that followed, and I think one of them in particular was embarrassed for the rest of... In fact, both of them were probably embarrassed for the rest of their life, is just that one lived a lot longer than the other. And I think James and John, they were brothers, and they're the ones that had this most embarrassing moment.

And I'm glad that Matthew and Mark included this in the account of the life of Jesus, because it sets us up for what I think... And I hope you'll stick around for this, what I think is probably the most inspiring, catalytic, clarifying statement that ever came from the lips of Jesus. A statement that ended up turning his apostles entire value system upside down, and a statement that if the modern church would take it to heart, if a modern church, if we would just take it to heart, just one... This one statement by Jesus for just three months or six months. So much would change in our communities, and so much would change in our families.

And before I point my finger too much at you honestly, if people who do what I do, if pastors would allow this to inform their behavior and inform their responses and inform their reactions and inform the way that they pastor their churches, so much would be different. In fact, real quick, if you're not a Christian, I really hope you'll stick with us through this message. If you're not a Christian, honestly, it's the church's failure to embrace this one statement that may explain why you're not a Christian, or it may explain why you're not a Christian anymore, why you left the faith. Because honestly, this statement by Jesus actually reflects a value, it reflects something that if you're not a Christian, you should hold us accountable to. But in some ways, as Christians oftentimes don't hold ourselves accountable to this incredible statement.

So here's what happened. Look, this may be new to you, I don't know, even if you grew up in church. So in this part of the story of Jesus, he has just finished mission number one. Jesus didn't have one mission, he had two missions. And we celebrate and sing about the second mission, but we overlook the first mission, but we talk about it a lot here. Mission number one for Jesus was to live his life and teach in such a way that people understood what his father was like. He came to reveal the Father. And so in this part of the story, He's just wrapped that up. Some of you are familiar with what's called sometimes the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, it's found in John 17. It's this long prayer that John recorded for us. And in this prayer, it's toward the end of Jesus ministry. Jesus is praying to his Heavenly Father, and he makes this statement. I memorized this verse many years ago in a translation, we don't use a lot anymore. He said this, I love this, he says, I glorified... Past tense, I have glorified You on the Earth, having accomplished the work that you have given me to do. In other words, mission accomplished, which we would read that or hear that and say, What a minute, you have an accomplished your mission, yet you're still on planet Earth and you're praying to your Heavenly Father, your mission was to die for the sins of the world. Jesus is like, I can do more than one thing at a time, okay?

I'm here to reveal the Father, and I'm done with mission number one. I glorified or I manifested, I revealed, I explained you to people on planet earth. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work, are having accomplished the mission, put a check in the box that you have given me to do. And now in our story line, he's about to step into the second part of his mission, which was to pay for the sins of the world, this is the part we sing about and celebrate all the time. So as we talked about it a little bit last time, so now he's with his disciples and he's moving to Jerusalem. He's not marching on Jerusalem as we talked about, he's marching to it and his disciples are so excited, because they're thinking, this is it, this is what we've been waiting for. He's finally gonna throw off his rabbinic robe and proclaim himself Messiah and King, and they cannot wait to get to Jerusalem, and they can't wait to get to Jerusalem for all the wrong reasons. They're thinking Old Testament Jericho, like, we're gonna get there and we're gonna take the city. We're gonna conquer the city, we're gonna exploit the city. Rabbi is gonna be the king and where his followers.

So here's where the story picks up. The text says, And Mark tells us, who got his information from Peter, who was there for all of this. They were on their way to Jerusalem. I love the statement. It's very unique in the New Testament, with Jesus leading the way. So you get this picture, there's the 12 of them, and then there's people who just... There's the general disciples who went everywhere Jesus went, but in this particular case, Jesus is out front, and it sort of implies that he's walking a little faster than normal, and they're having to keep up. He can't wait to get to Jerusalem.

But you gotta picture this, this is right before Passover. So they're not the only ones on the road, there are hundreds, eventually there will be thousands and thousands of pilgrims making their way all the way down from Galilee in the different regions to the city of Jerusalem, because it was a big deal to celebrate Passover in the city of Jerusalem. So the roads are crowded, Jesus is out front. They're trying to keep up, and he knows it's not a mystery to him, he knows when they get to Jerusalem, it's not gonna go well with him, and he knows that his disciples are a little too excited.

So he turns around and he says, Okay guys, let's take a break, and He pulls them all off the road far enough away from the crowd, or they won't be disturbed. And here's what the text says, he says He took... Mark says, He took the 12 aside and He told them what was gonna happen to him. He's like, Guys, okay, you think this is gonna be like a big party, it's gonna be horrible. I wanna set your expectations. And then he goes into all this detail, you should read it for yourself, he says, I'm gonna be arrested, I'm gonna be spit on, I'm gonna be screamed at, I'm gonna be mis- characterized, I'm gonna be lied about, I'm going to be flogged, and then they're gonna kill me, you all still wanna go? They cannot hear this, I mean, this isn't the first time he's warned them. And then they get up, they get back on the road, Jesus is leading the charge. And this is when James and John have their most embarrassing moment, because they hustle up ahead of the other guys, and they come up beside Jesus, and the text says like right then, right after he's finished explaining all this horrible stuff that's about to happen to him.

The text says this, Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee. came to him, as soon as Je... Read it for yourself, as soon as Jesus finishes telling them all this horrible stuff, they come up beside Jesus, and here's what they say, this is their most embarrassing moment later when all this kinda came together. Teacher, they said, We want you to do for us whatever we ask.

Okay, every parent understands this question, you've got it from your kids at some point, he like. Daddy, I need you to buy me to... Just to just give me a blank. Yes, and then I'll fill in the gaps, right? This is how kids ask parents for stuff. Right.

If I had the Greek text, here is really funny, it's a little bit Yodaish yes. Here's the literal Greek it's kinda interesting. Jesus, they said, We desire whatever we ask, you would do for us, we desire whatever you ask, in other words, go ahead and give us a yes, and then we're gonna tell you what we want. And then Jesus responds like a good parent response. He says, Okay, what do you want me to do for you? Before I say, Yes, what do you want me to do for you? And they look back to make sure the other guys can't hear, and they say. In conspiratorial volume. Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.

We got it, you're number one, but you gotta have a number two and number three, and those guys are great, but hey, we were like some of your first guy, remember at the very beginning, when you didn't have anybody and we were there for you, so when we get to Jerusalem and you proclaim yourself King, we'll probably hang back during this sitting and flogging and all that part, but anyway, when that's over with, and you're finally the king, we're brothers, we wanna be number one and number two. And can you imagine what Jesus is thinking? See, we know the whole story. We know what he's about to encounter. They didn't, but he knows. And they're like, what? And so this is what he says to them, he says, Hey guys, you don't know what you're asking, Jesus said. You don't really know what you... You wanna be that close to me? Then he sort of asked them in the New Testament language, can you two drink the cup, Can you two face or endure the baptism that I'm about to undergo. This is symbolic language for, I'm about to drink something, do you think you can handle what I'm drinking? Do you really think that you can undergo what I'm about to undergo?

Here's what they said. Oh yeah. We can. We got this. Bring it on. A week later, there with the rest of the apostles, Jesus is arrested and they just run away with everybody else, I mean before any... There was no battle or anything, their lives weren't being threatened, just as soon as Jesus is arrested, they're out, and I think... I'm just making this part up. I think forever after that, it's like, Hey, John, remember that whole thing? Oh yeah, we're with you. We can take it. Then you ran away like the rest of us. I think this was like just the whole... It just had to be their most embarrassing moment, right?

Now, this little conversation didn't remain a secret, long before it was documented by Matthew and Mark, apparently the other 10 guys found out about it, so here's what happened. When the 10, the other 10, when the other 10 heard about this conversation, these two had had privately with Jesus, somehow they found out about it, they became indignant with James and John, Hey, wow, how you guys think you should be number two, number three. We wanna be number two, and argument breaks out among Jesus disciples as they're making their way to Jerusalem. And the argument is about who gets the position who gets the power, who gets proximity to the King, who has more position, who has more power, who gets more proximity to the king. And I don't know what Jesus is thinking. I'm guessing this is dangerous, I think Jesus must be thinking. I am going on my own volition, I am intentionally going to Jerusalem to die for you. To give my life for you. I'm going low. I'm embracing, I'm chasing humility. And you guys, after being with me this long, are still scrambling and competing for position, you're still trying to get to the top. Pause.

And Christians, me included, we've been doing that ever since. Except we know the story, we know what he went through, and there's still something in me, and I think a lot of us, still competing and positioning, and somehow it's all about winning and climbing. And again, we've talked about this isn't about, Don't do your best, this isn't about don't exploit your talent and your resources. This is about why you do it and how you do it, and who you do it for.

So once again, Jesus is like, Oh great, alright guys, we're gonna have another little meeting, everybody off the path, let everybody get ahead of us, they're like, Oh, there's thousands of people were getting ahead of us, Jesus is like, this is part of your problem. So they're gonna have another little sit down, so they get way off the road again to where nobody can hear, and then Jesus sets up for this amazing statement.

Here's what happens, Jesus called them all together. Sit down, guys. We're gonna go over this one more time. Takes a deep breath. Okay, guys. You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles, specifically the Romans. You know how those who are regarded as rulers lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. In other words, guys, you know how it works in the real world, right? People with the power, retain their power and try to get more power and leverage their power for themselves, people with resources hold on to those resources, leverage their resources for more resources so they can have more resources for themselves. Guys, you know how this works, everything moves from the bottom to the top, and there's just a few at the top, and they just... Hang on, hang on, hang on. And cling, and they make decisions based on what's best for them regardless of the people further down in society, do you know... You know how this works. And they're like, Of course we do. That's why we wanna be number two and number three. We know exactly how this works, that was the point of our question, that's why we're so mad at those two, because they're trying to get further up the food chain than we are. We know how it works.

And then four words, this isn't the big statement, but this is a big one, the four words that are aimed at people like me, I think maybe more people like me who do what I do, but they're also aimed to people like you. You're ready for this. This is amazing. Okay, setting up again, guys, you know how the power thing works, you know how the resource things work, you know how... You know how the whole pyramid thing works, look up here and they're like, We know. Not so with you. Not in my kingdom. Not in my eclesia, in my movement, you're gonna be part of my movement, then you leverage your power and your resources and your family connections and your success, and anything you got going for you, you're constantly looking for a way to leverage it for the benefit of other people, you don't hoard it for yourself, not so with you.

Not so among you, you wanna be great, James and John, come on. You guys want it to be great. Right. They're like, Oh yeah, you would like to be great, you all... You guys wanna be great? Yeah, we wanna be great. Jesus says, Well, I think wanting to be great as a great thing. Let me tell you how to be great in my Kingdom. Whoever, he says, whoever wants to become great among you, James and John, right? They're like, Yeah, you wanna be great, that's great you wanna be great, whoever wants to be great among you. You gotta become the servant, back to the line, wait your thurn, you may not even get a turn, wait till everybody else to serve, wait till everybody else is seated, wait until everybody else has what they need first.

And whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. Again, this is such strong terminology, imagine they're sitting there listening to their rabbi, who just a few days earlier had raised Lazarus from the dead. You don't say, no, I don't think so. You just listen quietly and feel the weight of this and the embarrassment of this, because this is how we live, this is how he treated them, this is the way of the cross, this is invitation to you and to me and to the world. To choose because it's always a choice. And every single day I'm tempted to say no to the temptation, to say no to this opportunity, to say no to the invitation, it's the way of the servant, and it's a choice. We get to choose, we can choose not to be great in the here and now kingdom of God, or we can choose to be great in the here and now, kingdom of God. We can continue competing for greatness and the fading kingdom of mortals, competing for what can't be kept competing for what fades and ages and eventually passes away, you know moth and rust, says Jesus, feathers and dust says, anybody know Proximo, no body and who that was. Okay, anyway, so you will later.

So we can continue chasing the wind as we talked about feeling great about ourselves one day feeling bad about ourselves, the next day feeling great about ourselves, one day feeling bad about ourselves, the next day feeling great, then hating ourselves, and next day comparing and trying to win. Comparing, covering, lusting.

This is kind of a dumb question, is that how you wanna live your life that I wanna live in my life. So what I wanna look back on? Jesus, No, there's better. You're invited to better. You can live better. Is the way of Jesus is the way of the cross. The cross says, no, and this is what they're stuck on, I promise you, they're that stuck on servant, 'cause they actually... Everybody kinda had servants in the class system was so stratified, slave. Okay, Jesus, that's not what we signed up for. We signed up for glory, we signed up for fame, we signed up for King David, and we signed up for King Solomon, the glory years of our nation, Fortune and fame. Then Jesus pauses, I think, and he moves close, and he delivers the line that took their excuses away, and he delivers the line that takes my excuses away, he delivers the line, If you claim to be a Christian or a Jesus follower, that takes all of your excuses away, that should take our breath away, that certainly should take our entitlement and our arrogance away.

It's the statement that should move me out of the way, because this is the way of Jesus. This defined the way of Jesus, and here it is ready. This is the line that is so clarifying that if this went from here to here to here, changes everything. He's like, Guys, you know how it works in the real world. Yeah, you know how the power all goes up to Clint, the... Yeah, we know all that. Not so in my kingdom. Alright, so in your kingdom, for even the Son of Man talking about Himself, and He lifts the title from the Old Testament Book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel talked about The son of man, this was Daniel description of the one that God would send to deliver the world God's final king, God's messiah, and Jesus now takes this on as his title. He's used it multiple times throughout the Gospels. He's like, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served. You guys wanna be served... Look at me and say, I am your king. Not even I required people to serve me, but what kind of king is that? Who would even wanna be that kind of king, but imagine a kingdom or a community or a family, or imagine a nation that took their cue from that kind of king.

For even the Son of Man, he pointing on himself didn't come to be served, but to serve I think... Okay. Wait, wait, it's one thing to be a king, that doesn't require people to serve the king, it's another thing altogether, when the king decides to flip the script and serve those who are his subjects, but he wasn't through. Maybe at this point, he turns. And he faces Jerusalem. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. He faces Jerusalem as and to give His life. Because it was his choice. No body took His life from Him, He marched to Jerusalem to give it away. Now, I wanna say something about this. Real cool will come back. And again, I don't know what this looks like in your life, so if you're like Andy be more specific, I don't know how to be more specific, Do you know why you should look for opportunities to give your life away, because your opportunity to give your life away is slipping away, because one day your life will be taken from you and on that day, your opportunity, my opportunity to freely give our lives away comes to an end.

Our time is running out, if you're 20 or if you're 60, or if you're 80 our time or opportunity is running out to mimic and to follow Jesus by giving our lives away, the reason we should look for opportunities to give it away is because the opportunity to give it away. A slipping away. And one day, it ends. This is the way of the cross. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. He looks to Jerusalem and to give His life away as a ransom for many. And they're like quiet. And he says, Okay, let's go get back up, get back on the road. Join the crowd. They fallen way behind where so in the back of the line now, thank you very much, they're on their way to Jerusalem, and they still didn't understand. But they were about to witness... Imagine this far about to witness what John the Baptist predicted when John the Baptist came on the scene, and Jesus walks down to the valley where John the Baptist is baptizing in the Jordan River. And he stops what he's doing, he looks up and he says, Behold, look, the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.

They are about to witness that, they're about to become witnesses of the greatest event that ever happened, the salvation of the world, the ultimate served, the moment that would define Christianity, the moment that would define our faith, a moment that would define what it means and what it looks like to follow Jesus. And so the cross became the icon of our faith, because the folks who are there understood that it represented the template, the paradigm or the pattern for faith, because it's the ultimate loss is the ultimate shame, it's the ultimate back of the line. And after the resurrection, they're like. We get it. We got it. And they live their lives that way. And it multiplied and multiplied, it multiplied, it's why we're here. We're not here because Christians got their way. We're here because first and second century as Christians gave their lives away. That's why the gospel endured the might of wrong.

It's a standing invitation. It's an empowering invitation, is an invitation to participate in the kingdom of God right now in your family in the marketplace, as soon as we leave every single day, and every day we're gonna be tempted not to accept the invitation because it's so counter-cultural and so counter natural. But imagine if we said, Yes, imagine if we let our families that way, imagine if we work that way, served our employers that way, imagine if we led in the marketplace that way, imagine if we reacted that way. It's risky and as foolish... At least we think so now, but in the end, we won't think that way, because the power of God, the love of God, the kingdom of God is released and recognized in us and through us in the real world, when we say yes to the invitation of the cross. So what if we say yes? What if we tried to say, Yes, what if we...Like we said last week, what if we chased humility. ... What have we said, yes, at home, and I work in a school with our friends, what if we decided to chase humility with our enemies, what if we refuse to reduce the cross to simply a way of believing and really embraced it. Based on the pattern of the teaching of Jesus as a way of living alive, this is what Jesus invites us to defer, to give, to forgive, to serve, to choose to lose again, to chase humility. And... Then I'm done. When we think it's too much, you're asking too much, it's too high, you know you're asking me to go too low, this is when it should reverberate in our mind is Why you should memorize this statement, it's why I think it's just the most amazing thing that came from the lips of Jesus, in those moments where you're asking too much, I've already given I've already served, I've already apologized, I've already let them take the credit up, I've gone about as low as I know how to go, I don't know that I can go any further. Jesus smiles and He looks at Jesus, I know, thank you.

But just remember this, for even your savior, the one who after the resurrection, die again... We just doesn't get enough airplay. The one who stands on a mountain after His resurrection and says, Hey, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, the same one who stood in that upper room while they're serving Passover and realize, Oh my goodness. All authority belongs to me. I'm the most important person in the room, I'm the most powerful person in the room. Even that Man, even the Son of Man, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. And you are part of the many, so why not accept his invitation to live as part of his kingdom. And if we do, if we figure it out, if we decide it's not too hard, is not too low, if we decide even if we get it wrong, we're gonna keep trying, if we decide to keep it front and center, things will change, but the change starts here, but when it's real change, it will be evident out there, you are part of the many. So why not accept his invitation to participate in his kingdom?