Can I Be First?

Scripture Reading — Mark 9:30-37

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” — Mark 9:35

Jesus again tells his disciples that he will be arrested and killed and then rise from the dead. But the disciples don’t understand. So instead of dealing with that very uncomfortable issue, they let themselves get distracted in a dispute about which of them is the greatest.

In response to this, Jesus takes a seat. I love that little descriptive detail.

In contrast to the disciples who are climbing over each other to play “king of the hill,” the Bible tells us that Jesus sat down. It was customary for Jewish teachers to sit down while teaching, and in this way Jesus showed his disciples that in the midst of all their jockeying for position, they really needed to listen to him.

Jesus teaches that in the kingdom of God, the definition of greatness is reversed from what we would expect. Whoever wants to be first must be “the servant of all.” And by his life and death for our sake, Jesus shows that he, the Son of God, is the ultimate servant.

This is a profoundly important and hard lesson to learn—and if you are like me, it’s taking a lifetime to learn. It is so easy to want to compare ourselves to others, thinking we can come out on top. But Jesus invites us to see that his mission was to serve God so faithfully that he would give up his very life for our sake.

As we learn from Jesus’ words and example, our personal competitiveness turns to servanthood. In what ways are you turning from self to serving?

Prayer

Make me a servant, Lord, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.