20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But 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. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 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.”
Last time, as we started to think about the journey of serving, we talked about it not being a separate journey but intertwined with the journey of Suffering and Sacrifice. Now let’s look at:
- The Journey of Serving
Jesus emphasized that greatness in the kingdom of God is different from worldly greatness. Kingdom greatness is about serving, while worldly greatness is about ruling. Kingdom greatness focuses on the people, while worldly greatness focuses on self. We live in a world where greatness is measured by the extent of a person’s influence and power, by how much they control and command. Our flesh likes the idea that we are being served and our needs are being met. But in God’s kingdom, to become great, one must serve others. Real greatness according to Jesus is not measured by how many people serve you, but by how many people you serve.
We make so much of this life about our position, trying to be first, and we fear serving because deep down we fear losing position, yet when we consider our greatest example of servant hood, Jesus, we find it to be the one of greatest position. Mentally, Christians agree with the concept of serving but practically, we really dislike the idea of serving because a servant was someone who would wash other people’s feet, get people their food and drink, clean up after people are done eating. First, this is not a very glamorous position as it requires dealing with smelly feet, and secondly, it goes against our culture of being the ones who want to be catered to. The real problem with serving is self, the one who usually gets in the way is me, my sinful nature. Jesus said we are to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow Him, until we deal with self, we will never truly serve. I think this is why many Christians hop from place to place, relationship to relationship; we are really in it for self, looking for what meets our needs and when they are not met we just move on. If we really boil it all down we have a culture where we are more interested with getting blessed than being a blessing. I think that there is little true serving because we are going about this whole thing backwards; we are trying to be a blessing to get blessed when God has blessed us to be a blessing.
When we focus on being blessed we end up damming up God’s blessings for ourselves only to create an inflow with no outflow. Bodies of water in our world where there is no outflow become stagnant and die, the most famous being the Dead Sea. Our life should not be a dead end, or a blank alley of God’s blessings, it must be that reservoir that has an outlet to water what is downstream. God wants to use our life as a channel of His blessings, are you open to God using you? It seems an oxymoron that those that wish to be great become servants but the reason servants are great in the kingdom of God is that they become an instrument of His glory. Anytime God’s glory passes through anything it always becomes great.
Where are you serving? Who are you serving? Why are you serving? Who has God placed downstream in your life that He wants to bless through you? Are you seeking to become a blessing to others?