41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How disappointed James and John must have felt when Jesus, replying to their request to sit on His left and right in positions of honour in heaven, answered with a statement about sharing in suffering and being a servant to all.
Hadn’t Jesus come to make them, Gods chosen people, powerful leaders with all authority? Wasn’t Jesus here to change the record? For so many long years Gods people had been subject to others. Servants and subjugated to the Persians, Greeks and now the Romans. And Jesus would appear here to be saying its not over. Opposite, he seems to be saying choose servanthood. Jesus, this radical teacher, who has taught about equality for all people, who accepted outcast, who turned over the tables in the synagogue and who challenged the religious leaders. The victorious messiah that they had waited for, Jesus had come, and he had performed all kinds of miracles with great power, this Messiah was saying they must be servants to receive honour and glory. I don’t think it was the response they were hoping for.
And I’m not sure it’s the answer I really like either, if truth be told. Its easy to ask Jesus to help me be all that he wants me to be, to lift me up and make me an influencer and so on. But I think it is the same for us, as it was for the disciples then. If we want to be people of influence, if we want to lead and have God given authority in the church, in our workplaces or in the community then we too must be servant hearted leaders. Following the example of Jesus, who gave it all, who gave his life for others.
Jesus, help me to be a servant hearted person who is willing to “lay down my rights”, to put others first and to serve.
Written by Zoe Stewart