Summary: Christians have an example of greatness and a strategy to reach that point in life. If you want to be great, follow the words of our Lord and serve with humility.
Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” (Mark 10:42-45 The Message)
My brothers and sisters, as we meditate on the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we reflect on the conversation that James and John had with Jesus. They loved Jesus and they wanted to share in his glory. They asked Jesus if they could be positioned with him – one on the right and the other on the left in the kingdom, which The Message refers to as the highest places of honor. As a result, James, John and the other disciples who became upset about this conversation were all included in a teaching moment of Jesus.
Jesus reminds them that there is a great difference between his followers and the general population. One of the key factors is how one handles the power. As believers, we inherit a power and we receive the power from the Holy Spirit yet we should not boast in it or become consumed by it. We are called to be like Jesus, which means we should use the power to bless others.
Jesus told James and John “You don’t know what you are asking for.” Oftentimes, my brothers and sisters, we seek to gain position and/or prestige without realizing what it takes to get there. Just before my first ordination in the ministry, some of the members of my ministerial class and I had the opportunity to speak with a pastor of a mega church. We expressed admiration for him, and said we wanted to be like him. He quickly told us something I will never forget, “Never say you want to be like me. To say you want to be in my situation says you want to go through the things I’ve been through to get here. I don’t want you to have to go through all the turmoil and pain it took for me.” That is so similar to what Jesus stated to the disciples.
By looking at someone through natural eyes, we cannot conceive their history or destiny. You cannot see the many hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades it may have taken for their healing, financial solvency, gain of inner strength, deliverance from the past, reconciliation etc. You cannot see one’s tears, sweat and blood used as he/she travelled through the valley or climbed the mountain. We only see the manifested result before us. On the contrary, you also are not able to see the plans God has for them – the prosperity, the joy, the peace and the restoration. Natural eyes cannot see spiritual altitude or promise.
Jesus reminded them of his primary purpose which we must adopt – servant hood. Here is Jesus – the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent God incarnate and instead of having others bow down and worship him, be bows and washes their feet, he serves them supper, he prays for them and showers love upon them. That is the highest level of humility.
I know you are wonderful. You are all that and a bag of chips. You have unique gifts, skills and abilities but can I tell you a secret? None of those things show your obedience to the greatest commandments of loving God and others. The primary way others will acknowledge your relationship with the Lord and the established priorities in your faith walk is through your humble service.
Humbled service means I can perform some of the menial tasks others may not want to do. Humble service means I don’t care who sees me washing the walls, sweeping the floor, taking out someone else’s trash or doing the small things and even sometimes the unpleasant things. Our focus must not be placed on other’s opinions or our inward appeal for importance, but our love for Almighty God. Whatever we can do to bless God’s kingdom should be our desire day by day.
One of my favorite hymns focuses on service, it is entitled “I Am Thine Oh Lord” written Fannie Crosby. The second verse of the hymn records these words “Consecrate me now to thy service Lord by the power of grace divine. Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope and my will be lost in thine.”
As you journey throughout this day and week, remember our power is not in position or in prestige but it is in service to God. While position and prestige will give you temporal gain and power in this world, servant hood will prepare you for everlasting life.