If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.
We just read this together last Sunday night. A series of events had occurred-prompting a series of “teachable moments” by Jesus- that should have served to illustrate the true purpose of discipleship in this world. Famously, James and John, the sons of Zebedee ( elsewhere referred to as the “sons of thunder,” which is certainly a reference to their aggressive approach to life…), missed entirely the attitude and approach that Jesus expected them to have. Jesus’s ideal was for them to treat people just like he treated people-to treat them as valued and important.
Though different in many ways from the 1st century, the world in which we live shares many things in common with the world in which Jesus and his disciples lived. There have always been people at every level of social and financial advancement (“the poor you will always have with you”). There have always been folks whose primary (sole!) goal is to improve their lot, whatever the cost may be. Unfortunately, this type of approach to life often is paired with ruthlessness and selfishness. It is not unusual for “social climbers” to also be folks who step all over others in the process. It is not a hard and fast rule, but it is not uncommon.
Jesus has modeled for us a way of living and loving others that is antithetical to what the world is teaching us. In the calculus of human-derived economics and advancement, the way of Christ makes no sense. Yet we are bound by the wisdom of God to be people who live in imitation of the one who declared, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” To say this is a great challenge is certainly an understatement. But this is what God insists that we be-children of His who serve.