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Be Great, Serve

January 12, 2015

On the road from Ceasarea Philippi to Capernaum Jesus told His disciples of His impending death and resurrection. They did not understand what He was teaching. Instead of asking for an explanation, the disciples entered into an argument among themselves about who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom. When they arrived at Capernaum Jesus confronted their pride and folly. He asked them what they debated on the road, but they are too ashamed to answer. Then Jesus sat down and used a memorable object lesson to teach them true greatness.

Jesus declared something contrary to everything we think we know about how the word works. Jesus grabs reality by its ears and turns it inside out. Jesus declared, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Whoever desires to be first, to be of chief importance and greatest influence, let him be the least. If you want to be in front of the line in heaven, go to back of the line on earth. To reign, serve. Jesus declares greatness is not found in power and rule but in weakness and service. Greatness is not found in self seeking, manipulative service that has as its chief end self-promotion, power and prominence. No, greatness is found in genuine service that places itself at the beck and call of others, that places it’s own desires as least important, that places it’s promotion as insignificant, that gives no thought to thanks, notice or praise. The greatest in the kingdom of God are the least in the kingdom of the world.

To apply and illustrate the principle, Jesus brought a young child into their midst. He placed the child, maybe about preschool age, before them and then took the lad in His arms. He looked at the little child and told the disciples, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me.” Christian, there is true greatness. Serve a little child. Take him under your wing and receive him as Jesus would. Minister to him as Jesus would. Work for his benefit as Jesus would. That is greatness!

What does a child bring to the table? He has no income add to the offering plate. He is not going to take your side in a church decision. He is not going to write a letter to the editor singing your praises. He has no vote to cast. He may not understand your ministry. He may not appreciate what you have done. He may in a few years time turn away from all you have tried to teach him. None of that matters. Take a little child, one overlooked by the great ones, and minister to that one.

By extension, and I think this is Jesus’ real point, find the least important person and make yourself his servant. Find the ones despised, scorned, overlooked, neglected or disregarded. Make yourself the least of the least. Serve those who have nothing to offer. The greatest is everyone’s deacon, the waiter of the church, the manservant of all, and the handmaiden of the body. The greatest is the one who serves. Give generously to those who cannot give in return. Pour out grace to those who may not even appreciate it.  Service to least, that is greatness!


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