12th April 2023
Read - Mark 9:35
Message Alan Burke
Who is the greatest, it is a statement that we could debate for a lifetime, who is the greatest footballer, boxer, political leader and while I’m fairly set on each of those and you’re unlikely going to change my mind the disciples had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest among them. Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about and they all red faced, looked to the floor (or at least I imagine) and they said nothing, silence was their response to the question of Jesus.
What Jesus does is that he sits and calls the twelve to himself. Sitting was the posture of the teacher whereas today teachers often stand to teach in Jesus’ day it would have been that the teacher sat and those being taught would have sat at the feet of the teacher.
So here Jesus here sitting, calling the disciples is signalling to them that he was about to teach them something significant. After his question to them about what they were arguing about and with their response of silence Jesus doesn’t hammer them, he doesn’t point the finger and say ‘you lot know fine well what I’m talking about’! He doesn’t give them a dressing down and tell them that he will have none of it, instead Jesus uses the opportunity to teach an eternal truth about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus calls them in and tells them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” This is not Jesus pointing the figure, he’s not accusing but he is teaching them and it is not some abstract principle, he is teaching them the principle that he was living out right before their every yes that the first must be last and servant of all.
This teaching turns everything on it’s head, this is the polar opposite to how the world works, how we live our lives, what we teach our children, no parent who lines up in the parents race at sports day wants to come last, they are going for the victory, they want to be the greatest, they want to show all the other parents that they are losers and so that their kid has something to look up to.
Jesus here equates greatness with servanthood, the paradox here is that if you want to be first you must be last. This isn’t the first time he had taught in such a way, teaching them in the paradox of the christian life. Like when Jesus predicted his death at the end of chapter 8 he taught “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mk 8:35). Here Jesus teaches if you want to be first you must be last is teaching of the necessity of servanthood, as Jesus himself was exemplifying to them.
Who throughout the ages has been captivated by servanthood, this teaching of Jesus is not only revolutionary for those disciples at Jesus feet but it is for today and for the church. Our culture is not focused on the servant, but on the great and the good, who do we remember from history it’s the great and the good, we don’t have annuals of all those servants who died throughout the year, no, we value greatness. So here’s a question for us all, brothers and sisters how are we serving our saviour in how we serve his church, in how we serve one another? I’m often see many people who are quietly serving in many ways, while others I come across are looking for the fame and glory. Is there a way that we can be serving the church and our brothers and sisters? It can be from the simple act of giving someone a lift, making sure someone has a hot dinner, playing your part in the many events that the church runs, but how are you serving the church of Jesus Christ for his glory?
Our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ in what is known as his humiliation left the realms of Glory, the Fathers side and born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time, he exemplifies what servanthood was and is, he is the one who is our model.
Q18 Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.