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The Chosen

Matthew 20:17-34



Have you watched the mini-series, The Chosen?  It’s about the disciples as they follow Jesus, and we see scenes from the gospels dramatized.  There’s plenty to criticize if you want, but I find a whole lot to celebrate as it helps the Bible to come alive.


As with all TV/movies, they flash from one storyline to another, giving some variety to our short attention spans.  In our text we see 3 scenes that make up today’s episode.


Scene 1…

The Historian Josephus writes that every year at Passover 3 million Jews would ascend upon Jerusalem with 250,000 lambs.  You and I know that each and every one of those lambs was a picture of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.


v. 17        Jesus and His disciples are making the same trek, up from the Jordan valley, but this time He will be the Lamb sacrificed, and He again tries to communicate this to His followers.


v. 18-19   This is the 3rd time Jesus has attempted to tell them about His approaching sacrificial death.  Each time Jesus adds a few more details.  It’s an awesome display of His divine foreknowledge. 


1.     Jesus’ Passion Predicted

In mathematics there is a law called the Law of Compound Probability, which simply says, the more details you add to a prediction, the less likely it is to come to pass. 


Example:  If I were to say to my wife, tomorrow I’m going to go shopping at the mall, she would fall over...but she would know that the probability of that coming true is pretty good, because for me to say that I must really mean it.  Also, often when she drags me there I’m actually saying, “I’m not going!”  But if I begin adding details to that prediction then the probability of fulfillment reduces drastically.  I could say, tomorrow I’m going to the mall and a stranger will approach and ask me 10 questions.  That one detail by itself is unlikely to come to pass.  But next I say, I will answer all 10 questions correctly, and when I do, he’s going to give me a check for 1 million dollars.  The chances of this scenario taking place is almost ‘nil.  Now suppose I add that I will tear that check up in his face...ladies and gentlemen, the chances of that happening are 0!


Every detail Jesus predicted happened to the letter.  And the people of that day really should have recognized their Messiah if they knew their OT.  But they were so wrapped up in their own traditions and rituals that they were a million miles away in their spiritual understanding.  We see this to be true as we exit this holiday season, that holidays are actually holy days, and that we must remember the reason for the season.  Just as we must keep the Christ in Christmas we had to ask ourselves a question about Thanksgiving.  To whom are we giving thanks?  Millions celebrated the holidays while not believing in the God they are supposedly thanking and worshiping.  Let’s never allow our tradition to blind us to the real truth.


The Jews should have known that Jacob predicted Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah. 

Micah-born in Bethlehem

Isaiah-born of a virgin

Hosea-escape from Herod into Egypt

Jeremiah-Herod would kill all male babies in Bethlehem

Malachi-Jesus would have a forerunner [not an SUV, but John the Baptist]

Isaiah-begin His ministry in Galilee, heal the sick and work miracles

Zechariah-ride into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey

Daniel-predicted exact date He would present Himself

Zechariah-betrayed for 30 pieces of silver

Isaiah-scourged, beaten, spit upon

David-pierce hands and feet

Isaiah-crucified w/ thieves and buried in rich man’s tomb


Hundreds of years before His birth these details became a part of the OT scriptures, and they all came true.  Don’t we serve a wonderful God?!


Scene 2…

2.     The Pathway Prescribed

v. 20-24   Before Jesus describes the path to greatness we need to understand this setting.  James and John are cousins to the Lord Jesus, because their mother, Salome, was a sister to Mary.  Perhaps they thought they had an inside track in making this foolish and selfish request.  Jesus is talking about the cross, and these guys are worried about a crown.  Jesus is focused on His suffering, and James and John are focused on seating arrangements in heaven, wondering if they will have big thrones beside Him.  While Jesus is on His way to ultimate humility, they think it’s a good time to ask for a promotion.


Jesus answers them and tells them about the price to pay on the path to greatness.  The other disciples were piping hot at hearing this...maybe because they didn’t ask first!  Before we criticize all 12 of them too much, we can commend their faith, for He had told them they would rule and reign w/ Him and have thrones in heaven.


v. 25-28   Jesus says, it won’t work the way you are used to.  The world climbs the ladder of success by stepping on hands and heads at every rung.  You climb higher as you push others downward.  But Jesus says the way up is down.  He uses the word minister, which means servant, coming from the Greek word diakonos [deacon].  A deacon is not a person of power and authority, but a position of servanthood.


v. 27        Here the word servant is a different word dulos, which means bondslave.  So, greatness comes not from exalting yourself, but from humbling yourself.  


v. 28        Jesus is the ultimate example.  It’s about serving, not being served.  When Jesus washed these guys’ stinking feet He was showing Himself to be greater than any head of a fortune 500 company, or any king or leader of any nation!  He said the greatest leader is a servant.  He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [serve].


“Leader” appears 6 times in the Bible.

“Servant” appears over 800 times.

        And yet leadership is woven throughout the Bible.  It just usually looks like serving others.


Who is leading this church?  Probably not who you think!

Right now there are people who demonstrate how great they are, because they are willing to work in the nursery / jr. church.


*people who took down Christmas décor / gave out bread / organized gifts for nursing home / greeters / mowed / taught preschoolers / cleaned / fixed a water leak / served in Lifewise / shoveled snow / made food / grated parking lot / picked someone up for church / assisted with Wed. nite teens and kids / drove a van / visited someone / prayed for ailing members / took someone food / counted money / did books / sent missionary checks / played music before and after / did any of hundreds of other things I can’t list because it’s behind the scenes and they didn’t do it for a pat on the back…they did it for the Lord, Who said, “Now that is greatness!  That is leadership!”  And if serving is beneath you, then leading is beyond you.


This request made by a mom for her boys was a worldly request, because the world would say it was the path to greatness.  This was a fleshly request, but it would glorify them, not Christ.  And God will share many things w/ us, but not His glory. 


Ill.—we must be very careful about spotlight ministries like singing, preaching, teaching, or being on the platform, for there is such a tendency to do them for ourselves and not for God, to worry about what others think instead of directly serving God or leading others to do the same.  It is a real temptation to take ownership of that instrument or that microphone, instead of being a humble, slave like servant just using your gifts to glorify God! 

1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

At the same time, don’t hesitate to give some encouragement to someone who serves in a public way, as if God would be threatened by that.  And don’t worry about it going to their heads...someone will come by soon enough to criticize them and kick them in the’s part of public leadership!


Their request was worldly, fleshly, and also of the devil...who also sought a throne.


They said, yes, we can drink of your cup...and they surely did as they were the first and last of the disciples to be persecuted and die for Christ.  That cup didn’t pass from them!


We’ve seen the passion predicted, the pathway prescribed...


Scene 3…

3.     The Power Provided

Now Jesus demonstrates what He’s talking about w/ a divine illustration.

v. 29-34   Most in those days knew Jesus, and he was surely approached by many who needed healing who saw Him pass by.  But these 2 blind men couldn’t see Him, yet He stopped anyway.  They called out to Him and v. 32 says Jesus stood still.  Isn’t that beautiful?  I believe when I called on Him He stood still, too.  And any of us can call on Him at any time and get His full and undivided attention!  Why don’t we call on Him more often?   [One of these men was Bartimaeus.]


  • The cry of the beggars

They cried not like people do today, for their rights, but they cried out for mercy.  I don’t want what’s rightfully mine.  I deserve hell.  I need mercy!


  • The criticism of the crowd

v. 31        To follow Christ you have to go against the crowd.  You have to swim against the current...any dead fish can just float downstream, acc’d to the ‘course of this world!’  Some won’t come forward and be saved because of the crowd here.  But we’re a sympathetic crowd, because we’ve been there ourselves.


  • The compassion of the Savior

v. 32        They’re obviously blind...the Lord knew what they wanted...He just wanted to hear it from them.  Jesus knows we’re sinners, but He wants us to admit it.  Until we do, we’re spiritually blind.


People are groping in the darkness.  They don’t know who they really are, why they are here, where they came from, or where they’re going.  So they blindly believe something like evolution, or trudge along in the paths of wokeness and humanism, because they are grasping and groping for anything they can try to lay hands on.


v. 34        Jesus had the compassion to answer their request, and most importantly, He had the power to do it!  He’s the one in charge. He’s the real leader.  We are privileged to be selected to serve…chosen!

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