Verse of the day - Mark 9:35

  • Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."  Mark 9:35

    Last? Nobody likes to be last. We have a hard enough time settling for second place, much less last place. Jesus reverses the rank. The person who is most important to him is not the person seeking the status and notoriety. The most important person is like Jesus himself: willing to give up rank and status and importance to serve. For Jesus, last means first in service and first in the eyes of God.

    "First" is from the Greek root word protos. It means first in influence, honor, and rank; in this case, it would mean the chief of the disciples. "Servant" is from the Greek root word diakonos and simply means one who acts on the desires of another. It is where we get our word "deacon" which is someone who manages church resources to fill the needs of the members. Jesus will demonstrate this servant-heart when He washes the disciples' feet before the last supper (John 13:1–5).

    Jesus has recently told the disciples that they must lay down the right to their lives and be willing to die for Him on a cross (Mark 8:34–38). Many of the disciples will make this sacrifice, whether on a cross or in other ways. Right now, however, Jesus has to once again draw back the difficult rhetoric and encourage them to take a smaller step: be a leader by serving others.

    The disciples are thinking of the positions they will warrant when Jesus comes into His glory (Mark 10:37). They don't understand that His glory will not come until after His suffering and death.

    Leadership in times of prosperity and power looks very different than leadership in persecution and hardships. The purpose of leadership is to equip and encourage others so they remain steady and effective in times of great trial. When followers are struggling for life and hope, leaders need to give, not take.

    In peace, a military commander may insist on a fitted uniform, appropriate medals, and accolades from political leaders. In war, however, his responsibility is to his troops and their effectiveness and survival, no matter how it may cost his career. Paul understood this when he said he was "poured out as a drink offering" (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6).

    Magnificent God my Savior, you have made the world wonderful for me and have given your Son to redeem me. How can I ever thank you or repay you for your grace and kindness? Help me serve others with grace and kindness. Give me eyes to see people as you do; not judging by mere appearances, but valuing and treating people as Jesus does. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, the one who washed his disciples' feet. Amen.