While preparing for my sermon on Matthew 20:17-28, I learned that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last sermon in his home church Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA on the same text. His title was, "The Drum Major Instinct." It is a fascinating sermon. He goes in a different direction than I did, but with great effect.
In his sermon he addresses the evils of segregation and class warfare. He speaks about war and education. His sermons are still ripe with challenges that must be heard still in 2016. He challenges many of our assumptions and many of the political narratives of the last 50 years, and that is why we must listen to him. Challenges help us figure out what we actually believe far more than unquestioned assumptions.
And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.
And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.