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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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This past weekend was Independence Day in the United States! On this special weekend, as we celebrated the declaration of freedom that was made 245 years ago in the United States and the freedom we get to enjoy today because of it, our study centered on Mark 10:32–45. In this message, we explored Jesus’ revolutionary view on the nature and structure of power in His kingdom.
In this week’s group study, Calvary Christian Academy Discipleship Director Steve Mayo invites us into a deeper conversation around the nature of power as explored in Mark 10:32–45! If you missed the message or want a refresher, click here to watch it in its entirety.
Below, you’ll find some key questions to reflect on and consider in your group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, some action points fo the week, and a look ahead.
Memory Verse of the Week: Mark 10:42–45 (NIV)
“You know that those who are regarded as 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 slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Icebreaker: If you were in charge for a day, what would you do? What would you change? What would you implement?
Getting the Conversation Going: This weekend, we spent a lot of time learning about power and position, about authority and influence. How should we be using the power, position, and influence we’ve been given? Pastor Reuben shared a truth that many people have to learn the hard way, a truth that impacts marriages, parenting and sibling dynamics, the workplace, politics, friendships, and even the Church . . . power is intoxicating. There is a lure to it that puts people on a path that leaves lots of damage and hurt in its wake. Why? Because we have the wrong perspective on power and influence!
The simple truth is that power and influence are given by God. In John 19:11 (NIV), Jesus makes this clear when speaking to Pontius Pilate, saying, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above,” while Paul tells us in Romans 13:1 (NIV), “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Thus, no power, authority, or influence we have over anyone comes from us or belongs to us; it was given to us by the Lord. We are not owners of power, but stewards who will give an account for the manner in which we wield the power that’s been bestowed upon us.
Luke 12:48 (ESV)
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Discussion Question 1: What makes power and influence so alluring?
Discussion Question 2: How does knowing we are stewards of the influence we’ve been given—and that one day we’ll have to answer for the manner in which we used it—impact the way you live today?
The Nature of Power and the Power of Service: As is usual with Jesus, in Mark 10, we see Him flip our worldly understanding of power, position, and influence on its head. It begins with a simple request from James and John: “Teacher . . . Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory” (Mark 10:35–37 NIV).
As you can imagine, James and John’s request for the positions of highest honor in Jesus’ kingdom didn’t sit well with the rest of the disciples. Even after Jesus’ explanation of what those seats of power would entail and that those seats have already been prepared and assigned, we’re told that the other 10 were “indignant” (aganaktein), which means “angry; incensed.” They were filled with wrath and were very angry and resentful toward them. But then Jesus steps in and flips their understanding of authority, leadership, and influence on its head and once again reiterates the truth of what it means to follow Him and be part of His kingdom.
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them” (Mark 10:42 NIV). Basically, the way of the world is to seek position and status, to gain power, and then “lord it over” others. Jesus is essentially asserting that humanity’s inclination toward power contains within it the innate sinful tendency toward tyranny and abuse of power, to elevate self over others, and seek one’s own gain regardless of the method. But those in authority, in positions of influence in the kingdom, are to be wholly different. How so?
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43 NIV). Do you see that? In the hierarchy of Christ’s kingdom, we’re not called to rule, but to serve according to the example of the Son of God and in accordance with and complete submission to the will of God. The Church is not to operate like the world! We aren’t called to be “leaders,” we’re servants—first of God and then of one another. As Jesus’ disciples, we’re commanded to surrender and sacrifice all for the cause and kingdom of Christ, to deny ourselves and take up our cross, to die to self, to operate in humility and surrender to His will and work, to forsake our ambitions, lay down our sinful inclinations toward furthering the self, and sacrifice all for the cause and kingdom of Christ!
Discussion Question 3: What is the difference between worldly leadership and authority and kingdom authority?
The Here, but Not Yet Kingdom: Servanthood is true leadership; it’s the kind of example worth following because it points people to Jesus and shows people what it looks like to live and walk according to His good purposes! To be His disciple, we must give it all up for Him, forsake all, humble ourselves, and live in service to Christ, His kingdom, His people, and the world we’re trying to reach with the gospel! And here’s the beautiful thing about Jesus: He commands us to give it all up for Him and His kingdom, but He isn’t commanding us to do something He Himself didn’t do.
Jesus lived a life of service and gave up His life for everyone. He ate the kale! And He commands us to put others first, to live in service of the kingdom, to serve one another, to give up our lives . . . and He shows us how by doing the very same for us. He gave it all up for us (2 Corinthians 5:21, 8:9; Philippians 2:5–8), He laid down His life willingly (John 10:18), He got into the muck and the mess (Mark 5:25–34, 7:33; John 9:6), and He served with love, joy, and compassion (Mark 6:30–44; John 13:1–17). He literally laid down His life to save us and calls us His people, who have been saved by His work, to lay down our lives (our old ways, our selfish desires, ambitions, agendas, and will) for Him, His will, His kingdom, and His purposes.
It’s such a privilege to be a believer. We get to follow the example of our Savior, we get to live for and be part of something so much greater than we could possibly imagine, we get to be used by God to bring people into salvation and lead them into the hope of eternity, we get to follow in the footsteps of our King and Lord—and all it takes is us laying down our less than lives for a greater kingdom and purpose! Praise Jesus for this glorious call.
Discussion Question 4: Jesus laid down His life for you. What does it mean for you to lay down your life for Him and His kingdom?
This Week: True leadership and power in the kingdom is found in serving one another. So today, go out of your way to serve another believer.
Pray It Out: Share prayer requests in your group. Write down the requests of your group members, spend time praying over these requests, and keep praying individually over them throughout the week.
This weekend, we’ll continue our study through the Gospel of Mark as we dive into Mark 11:1–26 and discuss Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as well as the cursing of the fig tree. We’ll also learn about the nature and power of faith in our lives.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.