Best of Daily Reflections: If First, Then Last

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Mark 9:35

Have you ever been caught red-handed? I think of a time when, as a boy, I was playing baseball in the backyard. My dad told me to stop because I might break something. After he left, I told my friend Danny to throw one more pitch in my direction. He did, and I promptly hit a line drive into the sliding glass door, shattering it into hundreds of slicing shards. When my dad returned to see what all the noise was about, I was truly caught red-handed.

So were the disciples of Jesus. While walking on the road to Capernaum, they “had been arguing about which of them was the greatest” (9:34). When they arrived at their destination, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing out on the road?” (9:33). Not surprisingly, the disciples didn’t answer Jesus’ question. But Jesus, knowing the content of their argument, gathered his disciples as he sat down, assuming the posture of a teacher in that culture. “Whoever wants to be first must take last place,” he said, “and be the servant of everyone else” (9:35).

Jesus’ call to humility and servanthood was as counter cultural in the first century A.D. as it is today. It is natural for human beings to seek the power and glory that comes with being “first.” Many of us spend tremendous amounts of time and energy striving for position and power, polishing our reputations, and doing whatever else might help us to become Number One. Yet Jesus invites us into a new way of living, a whole new value system based on the kingdom of God. In this upside-down reality, humility, servanthood, and self-sacrifice lie along the ironic path to greatness. We who follow Jesus today are called to this new way of being, which impacts every relationship and situation in our lives.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How could you follow the call of Jesus to servanthood in your workplace? At home? In your church? In your neighborhood?

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, you know how much a part of me wants to be “first.” I’m not too much different from your first disciples. And I’m quite sure my desire for position and reputation often gets in the way of my ability to follow you. Forgive me, Lord.

Help me, by your grace, to desire the “firstness” that matters most in your kingdom. Teach me to be a servant of all who are in my life. Help me, Lord, to serve my family, my colleagues, my sisters and brothers in church, my fellow citizens. Free me from the need to prove myself, so that I might live my whole life for you and your glory. Amen.


Working for Free

In the series, Working for Free, we'll take a look at the different ways people navigate the world of working in a job they love, even when it might not be the way they make ends meet. Join the discussion or share your story in the comments. What do you think? Is passion enough?