“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus speaks these words to the apostles James and John after they ask him for the honor of sitting at his right and left hand in glory. The scripture says that the rest of the apostles were angered by this question. They probably felt like it wasn’t fair that they should receive that honor just because they asked. They may have felt like they deserved it more than James or John. Whatever the reason, it made them angry. But Jesus called them all together to put an end to the dispute.
He told them that whoever among them wanted to be great must be their servant. He says, “whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” It seems counterintuitive. The greatest usually has to serve the least. Kings don’t wash feet, servants do. Why then should they be servants if they want to be great and powerful? Jesus gives us the answer. “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
He contrasts the greatness of God with the greatness of worldly rulers saying that Gentile rulers lord their power over their people, but among Christ’s followers, it would not be that way. After all, Jesus himself, God in the flesh, did not come to lord his power over anyone, though he absolutely could have. Instead, he came to serve, even to the point of death. In Matthew 10:24, Jesus says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” If we claim to be followers of Jesus, we certainly wouldn’t claim to be greater than him. And if he spent his life in service to others, why shouldn’t we?
He tells his disciples that basically, there is no one greater than God, and he, being one with God, came to serve. Therefore, the measure of greatness in the Kingdom of God is not worldly power, authority, or position. The measure of greatness in the Kingdom of God is service.
Humble me. Make me a servant like your son, Jesus. Help me not to think more highly of myself than I ought, and help me to always consider others better than myself. Let me be a servant to all, and let me be a servant to you.
In Jesus’ Name,