Ever noticed how upset people get when someone cuts in line? In elementary school, it was a great offense! Watch a driver’s reaction when someone cuts them off in traffic, and you’ll realize things haven’t changed much since school. We don’t like people getting ahead of us.
Jesus knew this. He talked to His disciples about it in his last few days before His crucifixion.
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (vs. 34-35, NLT).
Soon after, on the road to Capernaum, Jesus told them again of his coming death, but they didn’t understand. They began talking among themselves as they followed behind Jesus. They were arguing about which of them would be at the front of the line in God’s kingdom.
Once they arrived, Jesus asked them, “"What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because they had argued about who was the greatest. Then Jesus sat down and called the Twelve to Him and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:33-35, NLT).
After leaving Capernaum, the group met a wealthy young man of status on the road - the one we read about in chapter 2. He asked Jesus what he could do to gain eternal life. After a short discussion, Jesus told him to sell his possessions and follow Him. However, the man did not wish to give up his elite life of comfort and power … even if it would lead to eternal life. And he walked away, depressed.
The disciples, while not nearly as wealthy to start with, had done what Jesus told this rich man to do. They had left everything to follow Christ. And Peter mentioned this to Jesus - we saw this in the last chapter, remember? So Jesus' reply will sound familiar - but read it thru though b/c I'm quoting here from Luke rather than Matthew and there's some extra parts I want you to see.
Jesus replied: “And I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then” (Mark 10:29-31).
Soon after, on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted His death a third time. Then James and John told Jesus, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” My how we jockey for position. Jesus told them they didn’t understand what they were asking for and He added, “I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen” (Mark 10:40).
Wasn't that parable about the wedding feast seating powerful in chapter 3?
“When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:41-45, NLT).
Jesus was teaching them the essence of true greatness – serving others with a humble, God-centered heart. He was letting them – and us – know that greatness in His kingdom is not determined by status but by service. Let's marinate on that divine truth today.
Meanwhile, tell me, if you could have dinner with anyone famous dead or alive (except Jesus!), who would it be and why? You already know who I'd have meatloaf with.