“Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35 NLT)
How hard is thisí Plenty hard to do actually, especially when we live in a society in which we are constantly bombarded with messages about being number one. Here Jesus is bumping us down to number 44 (see asterisk below). Take a number, and get to the end of the line, which is hard enough to do, but then he asks us to be a servant to everyone in front of us!
Even Christ’s disciples didn’t get it, so don’t think this message is easy. In fact, when Jesus and his disciples were on the road to Jerusalem for the last time and Jesus was informing them of what lay ahead, the disciples were so embroiled in a debate over who was going to sit closest to Jesus when he rules the Kingdom that they completely missed what he said. He said that the religious leaders were going to hand him over to the Romans and they were going to “mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him.” (Mark 10:34 NLT) How insensitive could they be? Jesus just told them he was facing suffering and death, and they’re arguing over who will get the number one spot in the Kingdom? Hello.
So, Jesus sat them down and gave them something to remember and pass on to us:
“You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 NLT)
Are these just nice words or are we really going to do thisí How do you serve all the people in front of you? Basically, you start to listen and look. Listen to what they say they need, and look for what they might not say but need anyway. Now that takes a lot of mental effort, but you will find that in engaging yourself in the needs of others, you will have less time and energy to put into your own needs, which, at least for me, is usually pretty counterproductive anyway.
*An arbitrary number to represent the number of people in someone’s life they might encounter on somewhat of a regular basis.
John Fischer resides in Southern California with his wife, Marti and son, Chandler. They also have two adult children, Christopher and Anne. John is a published author and popular speaker.
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