Sermons for Holy Week – Good Friday 5

Sermon number five, based on the chorus from The Servant King, was from me.

Reading – Mark 9.33; 2 Corinthians 14.5-11

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.


This is our God, the Servant King,
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King.


So we come, full circle.

We began with the God who made the decision to leave behind a throne and come to earth to be a servant. And he wants us to become a servant like him, so that one day we can join him on his throne.

Over and over in the gospels Jesus reminds us that in order to achieve the kind of greatness God wants us to have we must reject the kind of greatness that the world has to offer. Over and over again the writers of the New Testament remind us that Jesus calls us to take up a cross – our own cross – and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. One aspect of Christianity that marks it out among the world’s religions is that no-one is born a Christian. Having Christian parents does not make you a Christian. Each person, as they grow up, must reach the point where they make their own decision to accept or reject Jesus. That decision may be made at a specific point in someone’s life. It may be something akin to a growing realisation over a period of time that Jesus is Lord. But ultimately at some point that decision has to be made.

There is no getting away from it.

And there is no getting away from the paradox that is at the heart of life to which the Servant King calls us. For becoming a  Christian is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward thing possible, yet being a Christian is perhaps one of the most difficult for as Jesus has made plain it means picking up that cross, it means bearing those scars that mark us as branded as servants of Jesus.

For following Jesus is as easy as saying “Yes,” to God. As easy as recognising that we need Jesus in our life. As easy as recognising that only Jesus can lead us into heaven. As easy as declaring that Jesus is from henceforth Lord of our life. And Jesus accepts us, just as where are. This is the great truth that we call justification by faith. Simply believe in Jesus and you are saved – made right with God – and given a place in heaven. Such is the grace of God that that is all he asks – a simple ‘yes.’

And yet – easy as it is – that is only the beginning of the journey. For Jesus may accept us, just as we are, but he doesn’t leave us there, any more than he left the disciples where they were. He called the disciples to leave their previous lives behind and follow him. And at the Last Supper he took up a towel and washed their feet to show them what the life to which we called them was about – service. He calls us to live out this life, as he did, as servants of one another. And, like him, to be willing to carry a cross. This is the example that he came to give us.

Take up your cross and follow me. That may seem like a difficult thing to do – it is. How can it be otherwise, it’s a cross. But it is always worth remembering that Jesus is always there one step ahead of us. And all we have to do is keep focussed on Jesus to be sure that we do not lose our way. And difficult though it may seem we do it because that is what Jesus, our God, our Servant King, asks of us. And he wouldn’t ask it of us if he didn’t believe we could do it with his grace.

Bishop Christopher, in one of his talks to us earlier this week, reminded us that there is a prayer that priests say when they are preparing the altar for communion. It is said at the point when the water is mixed with the wine as the altar is prepared.

Through the mingling of this water and wine may we share in the divinity of Christ, who for our sakes came to share our humanity.

And that, ultimately, is what the Servant King came to do – to share our humanity so that we may, one day, come to share his divinity. The Servant King left his throne above and came to show us what it means to be truly human, to show us how to truly live. And so that we can do that, he died on the cross as a sacrifice so that we can be made right with God. And once we have grasped the wonder of it all – realised what an amazing thing he has done for us – taking up that cross no longer seems so difficult for we know that we can follow him, trusting that ultimately all will be well. Our whole life can become subject to the rule of our Servant King.

This is our God, the Servant King,
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King.


The Prayer of abandonment of Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You do I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all Your creatures,
I ask no more than this, my Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, O Lord,
with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, my God, and so need to give myself–
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve and with total confidence,
for You are my Father.