Text: Mark 10:35-45
This account in Mark’s Gospel took place on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking with his disciples on the way to his final destination before his crucifixion, and as he is walking he was telling them that he was about to die. He did not speak in figurative language, but told it plainly as we read in Mark 10:33 – 34. Their request revealed their own selfish ambition and gross misunderstanding of what Jesus was about to do. They still were expecting him to go to Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman government in a fantastic display of supernatural power and setup his throne in an earthly kingdom.But Jesus is patient and explained to them that he must drink a cup and undergo baptism. This time Jesus uses symbolism and they didn’t understand. But the cup represented the cup of the wrath of God that was about to be poured out over Jesus as he took on the sins of the world on the cross. The baptism that Jesus was referring to was the symbol of judgment, in the Old Testament, the great flood was a picture of the judgment of God on mankind. Jesus was predicting his suffering and judgment.
You see the disciples were making the same mistake that we make today, we follow the wrong examples. The disciples were looking at the glory and authority of the Roman rulers, and their hearts were set on being important, being recognized by man, making a name for themselves. We today look at the people on the big stages of life and want to be like that person, we make idols out of “successful people” we want to be known for who we know.
While there is nothing wrong with having ambition of great aspirations, being driven to excellence by a goal is not a bad thing, but we must be careful how we define greatness. This is where the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world clash. Jesus defined greatness in a whole new light. Jesus came to be a servant, the greatest man who ever walked the earth, described himself as the servant of all. Jesus the King of kings, was also the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. If Jesus Christ followed this pattern in accomplishing the great work of redemption, then surely there is no other pattern for us to follow. Unless we know how to obey orders, we do not have the right to give orders. Before a person exercises authority, he or she must know what it means to be under authority.
In John 13, we read the account of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. They were sitting or reclining at the table where they were about to feast in celebration of the Passover. They had all walked some distance and their feet were probably very dirty, and it was customary to have a servant of the house wash the feet of the guests. Since they were hosting their own Passover celebration, who would wash their feet?
Maybe one of the disciples who was chosen last, who hadn’t walked with them since the beginning? But then Jesus does the unthinkable, he stuns the room and begins washing the disciple’s feet. In one practical step of service, Jesus redefined service, and he also redefined leadership. This is the Kingdom of God, it is upside down, it is counterintuitive, and it goes against everything we have been taught about leadership and self-worth. But my friends there is great freedom in this way of living.
However as we look at service, we must note that there are two types of service;
There is the self-righteous service that comes from human effort and the desire to be recognized. Doing things in order to make us feel good about ourselves or to build some kind of a “good works resume”. My friends this type of service is a hard task master, and leads to little long lasting peace. Self-righteous service actually tears down community and often leads to gossip and discontent.
Then there is the true service, the person who does not seek recognition, who is quite happy to work content in the shadows. Never seeking or expecting recognition. These people minister simply because there is a need and they have the ability to meet that need. True service builds community and respect, quietly going about caring for the needs of others. This type of service draws people together, heals wounds, and builds a community.
We have to decide between serving and being a servant; serving and being a servant. If you serve, you are still in control and you can decide when to pull the plug and demand an out.
However when you choose to be a servant, you give up the right to be in charge, and there is tremendous freedom in that. As a servant, we give up our rights as Jesus commands us to, we become available and vulnerable. But in the Kingdom of God that is where the true value is to be found as Jesus said in our text; “and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
Below are six practical examples of ways in which we can become servants.
1) There is the service of giving up your time to help someone else.
2) There is the service of guarding someone’s reputation. (avoiding gossip and slander)
3) There is the service of common courtesy.
4) There is the service of hospitality.
5) Then there is the service of listening.
6) Finally there is the service of sharing the Gospel message with someone else.