“He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
This business of sitting down and calling the Twelve is a very Rabbinic way of underlining what is to come. This is Jesus as Teacher, emphasising the lesson, enacting in physical positioning the familiar verbal “Verily, verily, I say unto you…” This is important. Listen to this word.
And the word is to be a “servant.” The Greek word “diakonos” is a compound of dia– (thoroughly) and konis (dust), which translates as “thoroughly raise up dust by moving in a hurry, and so to minister”! It reminds me of that lovely moment in Psalm 119:32 where the Psalmist says, “I run in the path of your commands.” I kick up the dust in the joyful service of my king. It’s what I love to do! I jump to it! I run at your word!
However, the Psalmist continues “For you expand my understanding.” And it was this very expansion of understanding that Jesus was intent upon.
So here’s a brief rundown on how servants operate (drawn from a sermon I heard), based on the Jesus-model. First, real servants are self-forgetful (they look to others’ needs rather than their own). Second, real servants operate as stewards, rather than as owners. Third, real servants concentrate on their own responsibilities, and not what other servants are doing. Fourth: real servants base their identity upon their master, Jesus Christ and nowhere else. Fifth: real servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation.
How did you do on that checklist?
When you come to Christ as a bright and enthusiastic rcruit, there’s a sneaky tendency to fall prey to the old “You could be another Moses” syndrome.
And it’s especially easy, if you’re a Minister (Capital M,) to think that you’re somehow important, or that you’re at least further up the food chain.
But the last word in the welcome we all desire is the most significant. “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
The truth is, we are not called to success at all, but to obedience. So “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
Ready to kick up the dust?