Sunday, July 07, 2019

“The Suffering Serving Son of Man” [Matt's Messages]

“The Suffering Serving Son of Man”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
July 7, 2019 :: Matthew 20:17-28

We’ve been learning together that the Gospel of Matthew is a theological biography of the most compelling Person Whoever walked the face of the Earth.

We’ve been learning that the Gospel of Matthew tells us, teaches us, shows us Who Jesus really is.

We keep saying, “Keep your eye on the ball.”

“Keep your eye on the ball.” And “the ball” in Matthew is the identity of Jesus.

Our passage for today is no different.

It’s, at the center, about the identity Jesus.

In this passage (Matthew 20, verses 17 through 28), Jesus uses His favorite title for Himself to teach us about Himself.

What was Jesus’ favorite appellation for Himself? His favorite title for Himself?

“The Son of...Man.”

You might have guessed “The Son of God” which He surely was. But that’s what others call Him.

He likes to use this phrase, “The Son of Man.”

I think He liked it for various reasons.

One was its ambiguity.

It could just mean someone was a human.

A son of man is himself a man.

But there’s obviously more to it.

In the Old Testament, that phrase is used again and again, especially in the book of Ezekiel, and in the book of Daniel.

Israelite believers who had read their Old Testament prophecies would have interpreted this title, “Son of Man,” as a name for the coming Messiah.

What was the Messiah supposed to be like?

Well, listen to Daniel chapter 7, verses 13 and 14.

Daniels says, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Wow! That’s the Son of Man!

And Jesus, in the immediately preceding chapter, had said something similar.

Chapter 19, verse 28 and 29.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

The Son of Man coming in glory and sitting on His glorious throne and giving away glorious gifts!


That’s not all that the Son of Man is.

That’s not all that the Son of Man is going to do.

It turns out that the Son of Man is going to be very different than many people expected.

Jesus is often different than we expect, is He not?

You could never predict Jesus.

The more you get to know Him and become like Him, the more He makes sense to you, but He’s definitely counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.

We’ve seen that again and again, haven’t we?

When He describes His kingdom?

Upside-down and inside-out.

The opposite of what we’d ever predict.

In fact, what does Jesus say in verse 30? Right after that prediction of the glorious coming, the glorious throne, the glorious kingdom?

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

It’s not just an upside-down kingdom.

It’s a back-to-front kingdom.

It’s a last-to-first kingdom.

Last week, we listened to Jesus teach some more of his “first and last theology.”

He told the story of the eccentric employer who was perfectly just but also amazingly gracious. And He told us that we just need to deal with it, to deal with just how gracious He is.

Because in His kingdom, the last will be first and the first will be last.

Well, Jesus has some more of that “first and last theology” for us today.

But He kicks it up a notch by showing how He Himself will live out this first and last theology.

The Son of Man will not just come in glory.

He will come in suffering service.

Here’s our title for today.

Who is Jesus?

He is: “The Suffering Serving Son of Man.”

And if that doesn’t blow your mind, you are either completely sanctified already or you aren’t paying enough attention.

I only have two points this morning, and they are both in the title.


I know that we’re used to that idea, but the disciples sure weren’t.

The Son of Man comes in glory.

He doesn’t come to suffer?!

But that’s exactly what Jesus predicts.

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus knows what is going to happen to Him?

This is the third time so far in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus clearly predicts his passion. Each time He adds a little information that He didn’t before.

Jesus is on His way up to Jerusalem. He’s almost there!

And He knows what is going to happen there.

“Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.”

Listen to those verbs.

Be betrayed.
Condemned to death.
Turned over the Pilate and the Romans.

Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.
Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.
Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.

Jesus knew what was coming.

In fact, He chose it!

Praise the Lord for verse 19, and “On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Jesus knew that, too.

He knew that suffering was the true path to glory.

He knew about His resurrection.

That the last will be first.

But He also knew about the Cross.

Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.

He took the last place to get the first place.

Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.

When we got to the table today. Just think of those 3 words from Jesus’ lips.

What He knew was coming.

Mocked. Flogged. Crucified.

What’s really sad about verse 20 is that they clearly weren’t listening.

I know because of what James and John do.

They bring their Mom to Jesus to try get to be first in the kingdom.

They are clearly not paying attention. Verse 20.

“Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. [This ought to be good.] ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’”

What do you think of that request?

Well, it’s great that she and they believe in the kingdom.

Many people then did not believe that Jesus was the coming king.

And many people today still do not believe that Jesus is the coming king.

They got that right.

They believed what He said in chapter 19, verse 28.

“By the way, you mentioned twelve thrones. I was just wondering if my two sons could be on the thrones immediately to your right and to your left. What do you say?”

[By the way, it’s possible that James and John were actually cousins of Jesus and this woman named Salome was Jesus’ aunt. It’s not at all for sure as the Bible never comes out and says it but if you follow the names and relationships in the gospels, it’s definitely possible. So this could be Jesus’ aunt trying to get some special favors in.]

So what do you say, Jesus? I mean everybody’s got to have a right hand man!

V.22. Truer words were never spoken.

“‘You don't know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’”

Stop there for a second.

These folks have no clue.

Jesus just said that He was going to be mocked, flogged, crucified.

And they’re like, “Yeah, whatever, sure. But can we be glorified? We want to be first in the kingdom!”

And Jesus says, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

What do you think is in that cup?

I believe they think that cup is the cup of victory.

“Can you drink from the cup of glory that I drink from?”

“Sure! Hand it over.” v.22

“‘We can,’ they answered.”

But it’s not the cup of glory. It’s not the cup of victory.

It’s the cup of death.

It’s the cup of God’s wrath.

It’s the cup of suffering.

When we get to chapter 26, Jesus will ask His Father if there is any way that this cup could be taken away from Him (v.39)!

And they say that the could drink it with Him.

“You don’t know what you’re asking.”

This cup is the cup of be mocked, flogged, and crucified.

And even more, bearing the just wrath of God.

That’s what the Son of Man is going to do.

The Son of Man Came to Suffer.

So we shouldn’t be surprised if we have to follow in footsteps. V.23

“Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’”

That’s another surprise.

Jesus says that they will drink, to some small degree, from His cup.

They too will suffer.

Not exactly like He did.

But kind of like He did.

The Sons of Zebedee?

James will be killed by Herod in Acts chapter 12. Killed by a sword.

John will be exiled to the island of Patmos.

The Sons of Zebedee will suffer for Jesus’ sake.

And we, too, should not be surprised when are called to suffer for Him, as well.

Because that’s the path that Jesus took.

Suffering is the path to glory.

Why would we think that we would get there without any pain?

But they all did.

All of the disciples thought this way. V.24

“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. [They weren’t more godly, they were jealous. “Hey, you’re trying to take our place! We want to be first.] Jesus called them together and said, [No way, guys.]‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


They all want to be first.

And Jesus says, “No, no, no. You want to be last.

Don’t be like the world. The pagans want to be lords and authorities and little potentates.

But my kingdom is upside-down.

If you want to be great, you must be a servant.,

If you want to be first, you must be last. You must be a slave.”

Jesus says, “Don’t be like them. Be like Me!”

How counter-cultural.

How counter-intuitive.

Nothing has changed. The world still clamors to be first.

Nobody runs to the back of the line.

Nobody lives to die to self and deny themselves.

Everybody loves to live for their selves.

Think about it. What is the number one thing the world tells you today:

“Be yourself.”
“Trust yourself.”
“Love yourself.”

Jesus says, “Die to self.”

And serve others.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that someone who is in authority no longer exercises authority.

Jesus has all authority and exercises it.

But He does so as a servant.

He is the prime example of serving others, putting them before Himself.

And His Crosswork is the prime example of His Servanthood.

His suffering was His way of serving.

Verse 28 is so wonderful!

Serve others, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I’ll say it this way:

The Son of Man from Daniel 7 is also the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

He is worthy of the crown because He drank from the cup. [Pastor Kerry Doyal says, “Cups precede crowns.”]

He gave His life as a ransom FOR many.

That means “in place of” many.

A ransom is a price paid for someone’s freedom.

On the Cross, Jesus was paying the price of freedom from sin and guilt and shame.

Isaiah 53 says that the Suffering Servant will be rewarded “because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Jesus is riffing on that language.

He’s alluding to Isaiah 53 and saying that He will fulfill it.

The Son of Man Came to Serve.

And so, we who follow Him, should choose to serve, as well.

Are you a servant?

Would that appellation be appropriate for you?

Would that fit on your social media bio? And nobody would laugh?

“Matt Mitchell, servant.” I want it to.

When was the last time you put somebody ahead of yourself, and you didn’t do it to manipulate them?

When was the last time you took the last place because you were following Jesus?

The Son of Man deserved to be served, but instead He served.

How much more should we serve the people around us?

How could you quietly up your servant quotient today, this week?

At work?
At home?
In the neighborhood?
At church?

How are you going to apply this teaching to yourself?

“Not so with you...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just [like the Son of Man” did.


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything