By Ellen Ceely
“And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called to them and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” - Mark 10:41-45
Times change, but people will always be people! The response of the other disciples to James and John requesting the seats of honor beside Jesus sounds like something we’d encounter today! We can picture the scenario—at home, at school, or at work. We can even guess how we’d respond. I know I would be upset if a coworker went to my boss behind my back to get the job I wanted. I know I would feel indignant if they acted like they were superior to me.
But Jesus doesn’t respond like us. He is kind and gentle, and yet firm. He reminds James and John that they’re supposed to behave the opposite of the Gentiles. His followers are not supposed to lord over each other when they gain power or prestige. If they gain any position of power or influence, they’re supposed to serve each other.
What a contrast! Not only does Jesus’s response diffuse the anger of the other ten disciples, but it also calls out James and John for their pride. They wanted to be the best and the greatest, sitting next to Jesus on the throne in glory. They thought that being powerful went hand-in-hand with gloating and oppression of some kind. But Jesus tells them that he didn’t come to fulfill their earthly ideas of leadership. Jesus came as Lord of all, to serve and give his life as a ransom for theirs (Mark 10:45). Jesus came as a servant to sacrifice himself so that they could be in a relationship with God.
As his followers, the disciples are called to do the very same thing. So are we.
What does it look like for you to serve as a leader? Do you seek leadership so that you can feel and look important, or do you view leadership as a means of helping and serving others? What’s one practical way that you can do this for your fellow believers? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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