I, Me, and Myself - Part 2
November 19, 2003 • By Ed Wrather
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:42-45.
When I was a child in grade school, it was always important to be first. To be first in line to go to recess, was vitally important, in order to lay claim to one of the few swings on the playground. To be first in line to go to lunch, meant having precious extra minutes playing, and being able to lay claim to one of those swings. As I grew older, I learned the value of making more than the minimum wage. Receiving a promotion, and making more money seemed to be a reasonable thing to desire. Climbing the career ladder, at least at first, did not have negative connotations; but was a very positive thing.
The farther up the ladder a person climbed, the closer they came to being first. At the top of the ladder, a person would be first in power, first in financial reward, and as far as the material world is concerned, first in importance. The importance of being first has unknowingly been ingrained into most people at an early age. This process continues into adulthood although different definitions and incentives are used.
The idea of becoming great by becoming a servant or slave to others was certainly repugnant to most people during the time of Jesus. It was probably more shocking during the time Jesus walked physically on this earth, than it is now, because people were more familiar with what slaves and servants were back then. Servants and slaves did all the repulsive and unpleasant things that those with money and power did not want to do. They did those repulsive and unpleasant things and received very little in the way of compensation other than food to eat. There was little interest among the disciples in stooping to become a servant to others. They did not begin following Jesus to become servants. They were following Jesus, and in their heart of hearts, thought they were moving onward and upward to better lives.
For the modern mind, climbing down the ladder, instead of climbing up the ladder is repulsive. We have constantly received encouragement and rewards for climbing up, not climbing down. How can we give up our position of prominence, by climbing down to help someone, who does not even make minimum wage? How can we stoop to help someone, when it will not benefit us personally in some way? How can we give up our lives, to save some other person’s life? But isn’t this what Jesus is calling His disciples, and us to do?
The disciples did give up their lives in service, and tradition tells us that all but John lost their lives in martyrdom. What changed their hearts? When the disciples witnessed their Lord crucified, buried, and then His resurrection; it changed them forever. They then lived through faith in their Lord and Savior, and we must too. As the apostle Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”