Summary: Jesus said that anyone who wants to be first in God’s Kingdom must be last on earth by serving everyone, including the less fortunate.
Good morning boys and girls! :) It’s been a long time since I’ve seen most of you! How was your summer? Did you do lots of fun stuff?
Did you play lots of sports? How many of you won or were on a team that won? It’s fun to win, isn’t it? Now, who actually lost or was on a team that lost? That wasn’t fun, was it? Everyone likes winning or being first, but no one likes being last or losing.
The disciples felt the same way at times. For example, in Mark 9:30-37, which I’m going to read to you in a moment, they argued about which one of them would be first in God’s Kingdom. Let’s see what Jesus had to say.
Jesus said that anyone who wants to be first in God’s Kingdom must be last on earth by serving everyone, including the less fortunate. In a moment I’m going to read you a story that shows what he means, but before I do I’m going to ask you a question. Do any of you know what an obstacle race is? Well, for those of you who don’t, it’s a race course where at points along the way you have to do things like walk across a log, climb a rope, climb over a wall or run like this through a set of tires.
One day at a church Bible Club party, the teacher announced, "Next we'll have an obstacle race. Let's go outside, and I'll give you the instructions."
"Cool!" exclaimed Andy. He bolted for the door. "I'm going to win!"
Drew frowned. "Andy always wins," he muttered. "I never do."
When everyone was at the starting point, the teacher explained that they all would be following the same course, and they would have to overcome the same obstacles. "At some of them, you'll find directions that you must follow before you can move on," the teacher said. Then he blew his whistle, and the kids dashed off.
"I hate crawling," moaned Drew when he reached a tunnel.
"Me, too," agreed Tamara. "Guess we'll be last together."
"Whoa!" yelled Drew a little later as he slipped off a rail that had to be crossed. "Don't wait for me. I'm used to being last alone," he joked.
Drew finally puffed up to the last obstacle--a wall. "Why is everyone just standing here?" he asked when he saw everyone waiting. "What's the problem?"
Andy frowned and pointed to the directions. "I got here first and have to help everyone over the wall in the opposite order that they got here. You're the last one, so that means you get to go over the wall first," he said.
When Andy finally dropped over the wall, all the other kids had already crossed the finish line. He frowned at the teacher. "It's not fair," Andy complained. "I was winning, but now I'm last!"
"Hey, Andy, look what I got for coming in first," said Drew, holding up a trophy. He read aloud the inscription on it. "Many who are first will be last, and the last first." He grinned. "Thanks for helping me win, Andy."
The teacher smiled. "You did very well, Andy," he said, pulling another trophy from a box and handing it to Andy. "This is for your great job at the wall."
After the kids applauded, Andy read out loud the inscription on his trophy. "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Andy looked at the teacher. Then he grinned at Drew. "Thanks for helping me win, too, Drew!"
So you see, boys and girls, by helping the other kids during the obstacle race, Andy was a true winner. Jesus would be very proud of him.
Let us bow our heads and close our eyes for a moment of prayer.
Dear God, thank you for reminding us that in your eyes, we are first if we help those who need our help. Open our eyes for chances to help other people and show them the love you have for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.