So Jesus called them and said to them, 'You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.'
There are many times throughout scripture that Jesus takes our expectations of what the kingdom will be like (usually based on our experience of the world) and turns it upside down. The passage is one of those times. In our world, in order to be a 'great one' or a leader, you must know how to get ahead. You need to know how to advocate for yourself, use all of your advantages to get ahead, and once you are in power, do everything you can to stay there.
This passage starts with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, trying to do just that. They use their connection with Jesus to ask for seats at his right hand and his left when he comes into his glory. Jesus tells them that he cannot grant this privilege, and in fact, that leadership in his kingdom will look nothing like what they are used to. To be great in God's kingdom, one must be willing to be the servant of all, to put one's self in the position the world sees as the least great.
What if more people spent time trying to outdo each other in being the best servant, the best at caring for others, the best at putting ourselves last and others first? Imagine what the world would look like then? What if our leaders were not those with the most money or the loudest voices or the most privilege but everything the opposite of that? We can certainly dream.
And along with our dreaming, we can act in our own little part of the world. This week, look for opportunities where you can be in service of others, small ways in which you can humble yourself and put someone else first. Even if we all only do a little, I think we would see a huge impact in the world, a large breaking in of God's kingdom.
God of infinite wisdom and grace, who came to earth and humbled yourself, show us how to follow in the ways of Jesus. Help us to see opportunities to be of service, ways to humble ourselves before others, and help us to jump into those chances with enthusiasm and love. We humbly ask in Jesus' name, Amen.