Jesus on how to be great

18 September 2013

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Last Sunday, we heard Jesus say these famous words. In the midst of Jesus foretelling his upcoming suffering and death – and his call to people to die to themselves if they are to be his followers – his disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus slams that attitude.

Once again, Jesus turns out to be an upside-down kind of King; he’s concerned with inside-out cleanness (rather than external purity); he’s concerned with the life to come (rather than merely the here and now); his fame will come through hiddenness (rather than through fanfare and promotion); he comes to serve (rather than be served); and ultimately, he offers life through his death.

So greatness as a follower of Jesus must be greatness that is totally shaped by Jesus: he is not calling us to do anything that he himself has not done for us. How can we lay down our lives in service to others (or often, feel that we simply waste our lives in service to others)? The simple answer is that, on our own, we can’t – without it leading to either a superficial, pride-driven, I-serve-so-that-people-see-me-serve kind of service, or a burnt-out cynicism.

But true followers of Jesus can truly serve because they themselves are truly served. Our King is a King who became a servant for us. A King who is alive and will never die. A King who has promised to be with us always, a King who is our helper, a King who is deeply concerned for our needs, a King who will put everything right. With all that Jesus has done for us, how can we not lay down our lives in service – in our homes and families, in our churches, in our workplaces, in our communities, and in all of life?

This blog post was written by Dan Martin.