Servant King -

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 7th September 2008.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.


[Sam appears during Song 3 looking grumpy/ downcast]


Me:  Oh Hello Sam.    Glad to be back at school?


Sam:  Whatever!

Me:    I’ll take that as a no then

Sam:  Whatever.    

Me:    So did you have a good summer holiday then?

Sam:   Whatever!

Me:   Whatever did you get up to?

Sam:  [sadly]  Well I went on one of David Beckham’s summer soccer schools

Me:  Sounds great.  [pause]  So what's the matter then? I thought you loved football?

Sam:   I do.

Me:    So…..  

Sam:   Well when we got there, we had to do all these tests.   

Me:    What you mean like SATS tests.

Sam:   No silly.  Cool stuff like dribbling and balancing a ball on your foot and head and all that. 

Me:  And you didn’t do very well?

Sam:    No I did well good.  Got the third highest score.


Me:   Great.  And then what?

Sam:    We had a sort of friendly game.

Me:    And don’t tell me you won that as well.

Sam:   No, my team lost actually.  [pause]  But I was picked to be one of the team captains for the rest of the week.

Me:    Fantastic. 


Sam:  Well it was to start with.   

Me:    But then your team kept loosing right?

Sam:    Not all the time.

Me:   So why are you being such a grump.


Sam:  I’m not being a grump!

Me:    Oh yes you are!

Sam:  Oh no I’m not.

[repeat with the congregation a couple of times.]

Me:    OK you’re not a grump then.  But tell me what happened.

Sam:   I got booted off, that’s what!

Me:    What sent home from soccer school!

No  - booted off being captain.

Me:    And that’s why you’re being grumpy.


Sam:  Do I look bothered!


Me:   Yep!

Sam:  Whatever!

Me:   That’s sounds a bit mean;  did you get any warnings first.

Sam:  Maybe.   

Me:     Maybe like a couple.

Sam:  A couple or so.

Me:   So what did they say?

Sam:    That I wasn’t training hard enough.

Me:   Why not, I thought you loved football.

Sam:    I do, but I was captain, so I didn’t need to train hard did I.  Already had the band didn’t I?

Me:    So you loved being captain, but lost interest in the hard work of training and that’s why you got demoted was it?

Sam:   Sort of?

Me:    Well sort of why else then?

Sam:    Well the coach said that the captain was meant to lead the team and help to encourage them;  you know, stuff to help them improve and get better so they could dribble and balance like I could and all that.

Me:   Sounds like good advice to me.

Sam:    You would.

Me:  But you weren’t doing that then?

Sam:      Well some of the team were total rubbish. 

Me:    And you told them so did you?

Sam:    Sort of?


Me:    Sort of what did you say then?

Sam:    Well they were so bad, I told them I didn't now why they'd even bothered to sign up for a soccer school.  As we say back in school:  if you ain’t got the skill, you’re better off keeping still!  

Me:     Who says that back at school!

Sam:   Me and my mates.

Me:   And who do you say that to!

Sam:  The class nerds.  

Me:   And were any of those less gifted children from your class at the soccer school

Sam:  2 or them yeah!

Me:   And so you carried on being unkind to them.   

Sam:  Well it’s a laugh i’n it!

Me:  Not for those 2 boys it probably wasn’t.  In fact, if I’d been the coach, I’d have sent you home for bullying.

Sam:    Coach said something about bullying too.   

Me:  And what else did he say.   

Sam:  That I spent too much time hanging around the staff and not enough time bonding with my team and leading by example.   

Me:  So you weren’t acting like a real leader, you were just playing at being a captain, lapping up the glory and forgetting those you were meant to be leading!

Sam:   Yeah, that’s almost exactly what he said.  You must be a mind-reader.

Me:  No – that’s God’s job.   And so that’s why you got booted off the top dog spot.

Sam:  Not just sacked from being captain, but demoted to being a substitute for most of the games. 

Me:  Like I said, I would’ve sent you home.  So it sounds like the coach was being quite gracious to me. 

Sam:  you would.

Me:    And that’s a bit like what was going on in this month’s Bible story:

Sam:  What you mean Jesus was into playing football!

Me:   Not exactly.  But today's Bible story is about what it’s like to be on J’s team.  What it means to follow King Jesus.   So, at the beginning of that reading we had earlier, two of J’s disciples, James and John, asked Jesus a question.  Can you remember what the question was?

Sam:  Nop!

Me:   Well might be good to start listening now then.  Because Jesus is the King.  And because Jesus is the king, James and John thought he'd soon be sitting on the throne like every other king.  And so they wanted to sit on either side of Jesus.  They were already part of J’s team - the team called “the twelve disciples.” But James and John wanted to be the team captains if you like;  the top 2 disciples.” They wanted everyone to know they were extra special friends of Jesus;  more special than the other disciples.

Sam:  I can relate to that man!

Me:   I know.  But Jesus had a surprising lesson for them. You don’t know what you’re asking he told them.    In order for me to be crowned king, I've got to go through a hideous death.  And if you really want to be the number 1 and number 2 in my kingdom, then you’ll have to go through something similar.  How about it, says J?   

Sam:  No thanks!

Me:   Well that’s what they should’ve said.  But the point is that James and John didn’t understand what Jesus had told them?   When Jesus said are you up for this kind of torture and death, they said:  yeah, yeah.  We can do it.  You’re the king.  And we want to be top dogs.  Let’s get on with it.  They hadn't really understood what Jesus was saying.  All they could see was the glory, and not the cost of following Jesus. 

Sam:  nerds.

Me:  Well Jesus didn’t put it quite like that.  But he did say:  OK you will follow me through a painful death.    But it’s not my job to decide who’s going to be my number one and number 2.  That was my Father’s job. 

Sam:  What you mean there’s a coach who’s in charge of Jesus. 

Me:  yep that’s God the Father.  [pause]  So what happened when the rest of the disciples found out what James and John had been up to? 

Sam:   Don’t suppose they were too impressed? 

Me:  Exactly.  When the other ten disciples found out what James and John had asked Jesus, they were well annoyed.  They were annoyed because they were jealous. They were annoyed because THEY all wanted the number 1 slot.  And so they were annoyed because James and John had beat them to it! They were all thinking:  why didn't I pop the question first.  Then I could have been top dog.  [pause]   So what did Jesus say when he overheard them all arguing about it?  Did he say;  not to worry, you can all be number 1?   

Sam:  Well I suppose he was a bit like my soccer coach and told them to stop being so selfish and get of the top dogs bench.   

Me:   Well almost.  Jesus called them together and said, "You know that most rulers and Kings are really bossy.  Why?  Because they think that they’re more important than the people they rule. But GOD’S KINGDOM is different. In God’s Kingdom, if you want to be great, you've got to serve everybody else - because God's kingdom is upside down!

If you want to be first, you've got to be last. The people God thinks are really great are the ones who serve and help everybody else."

Sam:  maybe my soccer coach was a Christian!

Me:  what makes you think that?

Sam:  well that’s exactly the kind of stuff he was saying and it’s just, you know, well like unreal. 

Me:  well maybe to you, but that’s the point.  This way of doing things is so different to how people normally think, that the disciples probably didn’t get it first time.  Remember when Peter had worked out who Jesus was:  the Messiah, the Christ.  But then when Jesus started to explain that he'd have to die on the cross, Peter said: no, no no.  You can't do that, you're the Christ;  you’re the king.  Even though Jesus had explained it, Peter still didn't get it. 

Sam:  yeah, I remember.  He’d worked out who Jesus was, but only got half the picture. 

Me:  Exactly:  so just to make sure they hadn't missed the point this time, Jesus said something really shocking right at the end of today’s reading.  Can you remember what he said? 

Sam:  Nop!



Me:  Can anyone else remember what Jesus said at the end of the reading?  [you can look it up if you like:  Mark 10:45].

"For even the Son of Man (which was another OT name for Jesus, God's king) for even the Son of Man didn't come to BE served, but to serve… and to give his life as a ransom for many."

And that verse is this week’s memory verse.    [Mark 10:45 memory verse  up.]  

[Sam disappears during the learning of the memory verse]

Talk Part III

And the point is, that Jesus wasn’t a normal kind of king.  He wasn't the kind of king people had expected.  He wasn’t even the kind of king the disciples had expected.  Yes Jesus is the King.  But Jesus being the king meant that He was going to give his life as a ransom, or a payment for lots of other people.  And that’s because when he died on the cross, he was taking the punishment for all the sins of all God's people. 

For Jesus, the son of man, came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.    And that’s want this week's banner is all about.      Who likes washing up?

[Banner 8 up]

Well, here we’ve got a king.  But he’s not sitting on the throne;  no he’s doing the washing up.  Just like King Jesus, who came to not to be served, but to serve others, by giving up his life on the cross.

And so the point for us is that Jesus wants his followers to serve each other, just as He served us. He wants us to think about what would be best for other people, before we think about what’s best for us. He wants us to think about how we can be kind to the people who aren't v good at football, or who don’t have many friends.

But it’s really hard isn’t it?  Why?  Because naturally we all want to be first. If we’re honest, we all want to be on top, just like the disciples.  But if we’re following Jesus, then we can ask for His help to put other people first.  So let’s do that now as we pray. 



Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you sent Jesus to be our king.  And thank you that he’s taught us that being king, being first means to serve others.  And so we thank you that Jesus served us by dieing for us on the cross.  Help us to put others first by serving them and thinking about what would be best for them before thinking about ourselves.   Amen. 

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