The Way Up is Down

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Synopsis of   The Way Up Is Down

Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:

Mark 9 : 31       31  ….in order to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.”  32  But they didn’t understand what he was saying, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.  33  After they arrived at Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples settled in the house where they would be staying. Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing out on the road?”  34  But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.  35  He sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him. Then he said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”  36  Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  37   “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me.” 

The key wording in this passage, for this morning’s message, is: “…they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.”

Last week my message was titled Healthy Habits for Spiritual Check-ups. It covered items like, prayer, dependence on God’s promises, understanding the Ten Commandments, serving God by serving others, and catching the vision of evangelism.

Today’s message is titled The Way Up Is Down. I shall attempt to cover things like not trying to out-best God; let Him be the greatest.

I often end my messages with a story, but today I’d like to begin with one:

There once was a palace servant who longed more than anything else in life to be a knight. He yearned to represent his king and vowed within himself that if he ever had a chance to be a knight he would serve his king as the noblest knight who ever lived. His dream came true. His great day came. At his knighthood ceremony, the former servant, now a knight, made a special oath within himself. He vowed that from that day forward he would bow his knees and lift his arms in homage to no one but his king.

      As a knight, he was assigned to guard a remote city on the edge of the kingdom. On the day he took up his duties standing at attention in full armor at the city gate, an elderly peasant woman passed by on her way to the market. In a rickety cart, she carried some vegetables she had grown and hoped to sell. As she passed the knight, her rickety old vegetable cart hit a bump on the road and turned over. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and peas spilled everywhere. The peasant woman scurried to get them all back in her cart to no avail. She looked toward the knight in hopes he would help her but already he had forgotten what it was to be a servant. The knight stood there, unmoved, holding his pose. He would not bend to help her. He just stood at attention keeping his vow to never again bow his knees or lift his arms in homage to anyone but his king.

      Years passed, and one day an elderly one-legged man hobbled by on his old crutch. Directly in front of the knight, the old man’s crutch finally gave out and broke in two. “Sir knight,” the old one-legged man begged, “please reach down and help me to get up again.” The knight, unmoved by the old man’s predicament, made no response. He held his pose proudly and remembered he had vowed that he would neither stoop nor lift a hand to help anyone but his king.

      Decades passed, and the knight grew older. One day his granddaughter came by and said, “Papa, pick me up and take me to the fair.” But, even for his own granddaughter the knight would not stoop, for within himself he had made a vow to bow only to his king. Finally, the day came for the king to come. This was the day for which the knight had longed since the day of his knighthood. As the king approached to inspect him, the knight stood proudly and stiffly at attention. As he did, the king noticed a tear rolling down the proud knight’s cheek. “You are one of my noblest knights,” said the king, “why are you crying?”

      “Your majesty,” the knight replied, “I took a vow that I would bow and lift my arms in homage to you alone, but now that you are here I am an old man unable to keep my vow any more. The years of standing here stiffly at attention, waiting for you to come, have taken their toll. The joints of my armor are rusted and I can no longer lift my arms or bend my knees.” The wise king replied, “Perhaps if you had knelt to help all those people who passed by you, and lifted your arms to reach out to all the people who asked for your help, you would have been able to keep your vow to pay me homage today.”

So, then, what is the title of today’s message?   The Way Down Is Up!

Jesus says in Mark 9:35 “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all‑. Do you want to be first with God? Then get in the habit of stooping low, for the way up is down and the way down is up! Reach down to give a hand to someone in need. Sacrifice your wants for the needs of another. Practice the art of humility. Jesus, to illustrate this lesson, embraces a small child and says, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (v. 37).   In a society that regarded its children as little more than trophies, most people overlooked children, but not Jesus. The King of kings is not found by prideful pomp and circumstance but by servitude.

When Leonard Bernstein was conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, a reporter asked him to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, Bernstein replied, “Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who wants to play second fiddle with enthusiasm, that’s a real problem. Yet, without the second fiddle, we have no harmony in the orchestra.”

The first thing on the way up is,,,,

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