“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
The disciples who walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus and served alongside Jesus often found themselves arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. While walking along the road to Capernaum, Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, and they were embarrassed to answer Him. They knew that what they were arguing about – greatness – was silly, shallow, and shortsighted.
Now, it is not wrong for disciples of Jesus to be ambitious and industrious, as long as it is God who is getting the glory. But what those first-century disciples were missing was where greatness is found. It is not found in accomplishment or achievement or advancement; rather, greatness is only found in service to others. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for others (Matthew 20:28). The disciples wanted position, power, and prestige, when they should have been praying for the privilege of increasing their service in the lives of others.
The key that unlocks the power in today’s verse is to remember who was correcting the disciples’ misguided motivations: our Lord Jesus. The people of God were expecting a conquering king to free them from the oppression of Rome, but Jesus came as the Suffering Servant, who would free them from sin, Satan, and death. On Good Friday, Jesus provided the ultimate act of service for all the world to see as He laid down His life to secure our salvation.
Jesus cared nothing for position, power, or prestige; His passion was to conquer our last enemy: death. And He did exactly that on the morning of the third day after His crucifixion, when He walked out of the grave alive and well as the Savior of the world. That is the picture of greatness. Jesus is the only person who was ever truly great, and all of His greatness shone most brightly through His sacrificial service to save us all from the penalty of our sins.
So . . . have you been demonstrating the greatness that is deep within you through your sacrificial service in the lives of others? Where the world teaches success at the expense of others, the Bible makes it clear that true success comes only in the service of others. Is this the confession of your life today? If it is, then you are great in the Kingdom of heaven! And you will prove that greatness, not by shouting it to the world, but by showing it through your service to others.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!