Gospel of Mark | Servanthood | Mark 10.41-45 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Apr 22, 2024

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10.41-45.

Imagine yourself in a board meeting with your boss, and envision that the promotion you’ve been striving for has been taken by your best friend behind your back. But in this case, there was no upward promotion; rather, a downward one. What the disciples did not yet understand, but soon would, is that advancement in God’s kingdom is attained through humility, not elevation. Self-promotion has no place in God’s Kingdom. The way up is down.

The disciples must have been shocked upon hearing that James and John, two of Jesus’ twelve faithful disciples, had asked for a “raise” to the detriment of everyone else. They approached Jesus without anyone’s knowledge and requested not just a minor promotion, but an eternal placement next to Jesus in his Kingdom. The other ten disciples became heated. The text tells us they were “indignant.” But before things escalated, Jesus gathered the twelve for a perfect object lesson. In God’s Kingdom, Jesus said, ‘whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.’ Then, referring to himself, he told them, ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Humans can’t help but self-promote. I’m sad to admit I do it too! The godly part of me would like to believe that I seek promotion for Kingdom advancement, but in truth, there is also some ego involved. So much of our identity is wrapped up in our work. If we do something the world sees as significant, we feel good about ourselves. Conversely, a minor, behind-the-scenes, low-paying job tends to discourage us. At this point, we must realize our identity comes from who we are in Christ, not what we do. The size of our assignment doesn’t determine our worth as children of God. Being God’s child should surpass any earthly assignment.

The disciples’ desire to elevate themselves allowed Jesus to remind us all that humility wins the day. Jesus surrendered to death on a cross—he who was without sin became sin for us. He humbled himself so that God might lift him up.

As we walk through this week, let’s seek to prioritize God and others above our own needs. Let’s focus on giving rather than getting, and on serving rather than striving for position. As James says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord so he might lift you up.’

“O Lord God, you are good. In my weakness, I seek worldly fame and fortune, but in my spirit, I surrender all to you. Come now, Holy Spirit, guide me along paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Come now, Father God, claim me as your own. Allow me to remain in step with your will and bring you glory. For you are good and your love endures forever. Amen”