TEACHER’S PET OF THE LORD
Sermon Notes ‘St James the Apostle,’ 25 July 2021 Anno Domini
The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
PRAYER of COLLECT (St. James the Apostle)
GRANT, O merciful God, that, as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect (8th Sunday after TRINITY)
O GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:20-28
James the son of Zebedee and his brother John were among the twelve disciples of Our Lord. They, together with Peter, were privileged to behold the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1), to witness the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and to be called aside to watch and pray with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His death (Mark 3:17).
James and John were apparently from a higher social level than the average fisherman. Jesus nicknamed the two brothers “sons of thunder“, perhaps meaning that they were headstrong, hot-tempered, and impulsive; and so they seem to be in two incidents reported in the Gospels. On one occasion, Jesus and the disciples were refused the hospitality of a Samaritan village, and James and John proposed to call down fire from heaven on the offenders. On another occasion, their mother asked Jesus for a special place of honor in the Kingdom, and were told that the place of honor is the place of suffering.
Finally, about AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12), James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I – the first Apostle to be martyred. (Acts 12:2)
After his death his body was taken to Spain and buried there. at Compostela (a town the name of which is commonly thought to be derived from the word “place of the apostle” .
The Spaniards fighting to drive their Moorish conquerors out of Spain took “Santiago de Compostela!” as one of their chief war-cries
So James is one of the two(James & John) whose mother requested a special place for them by the side of Christ.
We read the account of this beginning in the first verse of our text (v20):
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
Mothers are ever seeking to gain advantage for their sons and daughters and are willing to circumvent conventional propriety in the effort. She had perhaps already told James and John to have the nerve to ask the Lord themselves. They would have refused to avoid the embarrassment of asking a special favor.
But her petition forced them to come to the issue.
There is an old adage which says “Be careful what you ask for!”
Most of the great petitions of life begin with the all-important “Me!” when they should begin with a concern for the greater good of others. That is the Christ-like principle.
I hold in my hands a sea-farers telescope. Its purpose was to search the ocean horizon for other ships, for land and lighthouses, and every possible sign that would enlighten the captain of his course in confirmation of his compass reading. The proper use of the telescope is to look through the small (me) end. That way, the search view will be brought close. When we go before God in prayer, we must do so understanding our smallness, and His Face will be magnified.
The young lass, Mary, speaks in the first line of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46) “…My soul doth magnify the Lord!”
When we start with an understanding of our insignificant smallness, we will come to terms with the infinite greatness of the Lord.
Suppose I look into the telescope from the large end? The object viewed will appear very far away and small. If I begin with my over-estimation of my own importance, and size, God will appear uncharacteristically small and far away.
The proper concept is to know that we are without any merit or power whatsoever apart from His Love and Grace. That is the proper perspective. So when we look through a telescope at God, we view Him through the small (me) end.
Jesus never neglected even a wrong request as a moment to teach and enlighten. His response……
Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
When we drink of the Cup in Communion, we are signifying that we share this same Cup with Christ. For this reason, we use a single cup – not many.
A lesson here is to avoid unwise claims. “Sure, I can do it, Lord. Just give me the chance!”
How did the two respond? “They say unto him, We are able.”
Christ does not condemn their ambition for it is an ambition for character and not possession. To love to be near Christ is akin to loving to be ‘like’ Christ.
Please, before you make a boasting claim, be sure to know what you are talking about. These two had no idea that all the apostles would be murdered except one. They would all undergo torture, isolation and death. ….a kind of death beyond their imaginations. Christ would be cruelly murdered on the cross – but this they did not realize at their moment of foolish request.
Jesus responded: “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with. “ His baptism was a red one – of blood shed on the cross. Jesus continued: “but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”
Though many pleadings were made to Christ for healing and for restoration, He nonetheless answered them all streaight forwardly and healed them. But this request is one that is completely dependent upon the Providence of God the Father. And it begins with self!
This prayer was not granted. Why not? The Apostle James answers the question himself in James 4:3 – “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Our roles and callings have already been established in the will of the Father long before the world was created. This is settled law.
Every single citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem has his place prepared for him, not only for what, but by what he is.
The nearest to Christ in His glory will be those who are nearest Him in action and character. How like Christ are you in action and in word and thought?
Are you able to drink from the same Cup. Are you made worthy by His Holy Spirit testifying in your heart, and your hearing it?
How did the other disciples respond to the request of the mother of James and John, and of the two men themselves? 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
Should we really be jealous of others for wanting to sit next to Christ, to be near Him, to be LIKE Him? Religious jealousy is the worst kind and most destructive, because it reflects a sinister side of the soul.
How should we view the sense of privilege with Christ? What does Christ tell us?
, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
How many modern day “wonders of the pulpit” would humble themselves if a member of the church was very poor and had dirty feet. Would he bring out the wash basin, bend down, and wash the feet of the poor man?
Would this happen in a church in Enterprise? A Korean Church? A German Church? Any Alabama church?
Perhaps, but very rarely. Even if a member of the church began to wash someone’s feet in the church, most likely the police would be called and the offender hauled off to jail. Yet this was the example of Christ.
My son, Michael, and I used to play a silly little game when he was a toddler. It was called “Opposites Day”. Whatever we answered to a question, the opposite would be true. After participating for a while I would forget the rules. Michael would say, “Dad, can we go to the American market for chocolate (Norwegian) eggs. I would say “No, not today son.” He would say, “Good, Dad. Let’s go get them” I would protest until he reminded me that today is ‘Opposites Day.”
The only way a Christian can be worthy is in the knowledge that he is unworthy. The only way he can be great is in becoming small and humble.
Don’t forget to look through the “me” or small end of the telescope TOWARD THE LARGE END (GOD). Magnify God, not self!