Mark 10:35-45 (NIV) Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”…They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”…Jesus called them together and said…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
Many of us do not want die. We, in fact, spend much of our energy and resources trying to preserve our lives. Ironically, in the course of doing all this we may end up wasting our lives away. That is why the call by Jesus to die to self is antithetical to everything we know and live for. It is a radical call. It is unnatural. It is not how the world works.
In today’s passage, the two disciples, James and John, come up with a rather ridiculous request to Jesus—and they do not expect Jesus to deny their request. They want each of them to sit at either side of Jesus in His coming Messianic kingdom. They certainly are ignorant that Jesus’ going to Jerusalem will lead to death and not political triumph. They also obviously are not fully aware of the implications of following Jesus, which include suffering and pain. Jesus then responds to all the disciples that true greatness is achieved by selfless service.
From God’s point of view, greatness is measured by willingness to die to self and serve others. The way to greatness is through selfless service. The Word of God exhorts followers of Jesus Christ to emulate His example of humility as we serve one another. He was God from all eternity but he freely gave up His divine privileges to become like us. He who created the world lived like a slave and died the death of a worst criminal.
On the day of the Passover before His crucifixion, he washed the feet of his disciples. This was a menial job meant for household servants. After the exercise, Jesus told the disciples an important lesson: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” This can only happen when we stop pursuing self-serving interests but serve others. It happens when we allow God to use us to accomplish His purposes rather than us using God to accomplish our purposes.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us the way to true greatness. Please help me to live humbly as a servant of others. In Your name I pray, amen.