Lesson for Feb. 20, 2011: Jesus Came to Serve (Mark 10:35-45)

This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for February 20) is written by Jonathan Feathers, senior minister with West Waynesboro Church of Christ in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Jesus Came to Serve (Mark 10:35-45)

By Jonathan Feathers

(Note: The italicized words in this lesson may be used as discussion questions.)

To serve or to be served? What is your response to this question? In our 21st-century American culture, we strive to make it to the top and to cross the finish line first. In today’s economy, we are prepared to push and shove to be the front-runner for the new job. We will do whatever it takes to land that position or win the prize. We want to be noticed, recognized, and rewarded for our efforts. Let’s face it. We want to be served; and besides, we think we deserve it.

(Describe a time when you were served.)

Perhaps we all should stop for a moment, take a step back, breathe, and learn a very hard lesson from Jesus. Jesus came to serve. (Stop, breathe, and read that again.) Jesus came to serve. Why would Jesus come to serve? And if it is true, then where does that leave us?

As I see it, we have two choices.

To Be Served (Mark 10:35-40)

Notice what James and John say in verse 35, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” It seems a rather bold statement. The brothers go on to explain their request to Jesus. “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory” (v. 37). In response to the request, Jesus offers an answer and an explanation.

Again, notice those two phrases, “We want you to do for us” and “let one of us.” How often do we approach a situation and ask, “What is in it for me? What can I get out of this? How will this benefit me?” In other words, “I will do this for you if you will do this for me.” The focus is on one’s self. You and I want to be served. We can fall into the trap of being selfish. We want others to do for us, instead of asking, “What can we do for you?”

(Describe a time you asked someone for a favor. Did the other person agree to your request? How did it make you feel? Why would we want to be served?)

To Serve (Mark 10:41-45)

Upon hearing this conversation, the other 10 disciples became “indignant.” The Greek word for “indignant” is aganakteo, which can mean to “be very displeased.” The word is more of an action than an adjective.

The other disciples were upset, but Jesus seizes the moment and teaches all of them a lesson. Jesus says, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (vv. 43, 44). The Greek word used for “slave” is doulos, which can mean “a servant, slave, or one devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest.” The person who is a servant of Jesus will set aside his or her own interest and extend Jesus’ interests. Verse 45 states clearly, “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.” Ransom—lytron in the Greek—means to “liberate many from misery and the penalty of their sins.” Jesus really sets the example of what it means to serve.

Many Christians will reference this verse when it comes to being a servant of Jesus. Honestly, how often do we set aside our own interests and extend Jesus’ interests? How often do we try and see people from his perspective? Are we willing to serve others?

(When was the last time you served someone? How did it make you feel after serving? Why would we want to serve?)

As we go about our week, perhaps we should stop, take a step back, breathe, and ask ourselves: Are we doing what we do for ourselves or for Jesus? Are we looking out for our own interests or his? Do we want to be served or to serve? Which choice will you make?

(How can we develop a servant’s attitude and heart?)


*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

Feb. 14: Luke 15:25-32
Feb. 15: Luke 10:38-42
Feb. 16: Luke 22:24-30
Feb. 17: Mark 10:17-22
Feb. 18: John 12:20-26
Feb. 19: John 13:3-16
Feb. 2o: Mark 10:35-45

ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Jonathan Feathers serves as senior minister with West Waynesboro Church of Christ in Waynesboro, Virginia. He is a graduate of Emmanuel School of Religion and Tusculum College and is pursuing a DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jonathan and his wife, Melanie, reside in Fishersville, Virginia. You may contact him at jonathanfeathers@hotmail.com.

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  1. Marlo williams
    February 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I thank y’all for breaking the lesson down. It helps in understanding the lesson better. I really appreciate it.

  2. Denise
    February 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Thank for allowing God to use you to explain his word.

  3. Carol S.
    February 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    You are so right. Today’s society is so ready for others to do for them, but we are not ready to lift a finger to serve others. Keep up the good work!

  4. February 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

    This lesson should be an eye-opener to us as Christians. Most of us are guilty of “what’s in it for me?” We are not about True leadership but high positions in the church, recognition, being served, not being servants. This is not what Jesus expects of us.

  5. M. Smith
    February 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Your explanation of the lesson helps me in Sunday School! God Bless!

  6. Dorothy Roman
    February 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you for your insightful commentary on the weekly lessons. It helps me with teaching my Sunday school lesson for youth.

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