Hi everyone. Rob here.
If there’s one story that reveals how different Jesus was to the world he entered it’s this one recorded in Mark 9:33-35.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’
It was perfectly normal for 1st century Jewish men to be arguing about their status. Status was currency. Every man wanted more status. Status was also a finite commodity. If you gained it then it was the expense of someone else. Hence, you see various authority figures try to take Jesus down a peg or two. They never succeeded and had to resort to sending him to a cross in order to bring him the shame they wanted him to experience. They saw his demonstrations of true authority as undermining their status. They were right but they also never realised that in the loss of status was an invitation to walk the humble path and allow God to be truly Lord and King of their lives.
Jesus calls out the disciples because the kingdom of God is not built on human status or reputation. It’s built through people who have truly handed their lives over to God. When we become people who have truly made God king over our lives we have surrendered our own desire to be king. God’s kingdom doesn’t grow through our attempts to take the throne. It grows when we lay our crowns down at the foot of the cross and the crucified king, Jesus.
The ironic thing is that God has given us a desire to rule and he’s done it for a reason. He wants us to be rulers in his kingdom. This was the original mandate for humanity and it’s a mandate returned to us after the renewal of all things (see Revelation 22:5). Of course, we can’t be rulers on behalf of God in his kingdom if we’re trying to be rulers against God by building our own. Our desire to rule can only be fulfilled if we have acknowledged the true Ruler, the true Kingdom and bowed the knee in response.
As followers of Jesus then, we start to exercise our God-given mandate of rule now because we belong to God’s kingdom now. We do it by walking the humble path and surrendering our lives over to God every day. We do it by acknowledging our desperate need for Jesus and the life of the Spirit in us every day. I know that God’s kingdom is also built through divine love. I need God’s help to receive God’s love, rest in God’s love and radiate God’s love.
I can’t do that if I’m status seeking or reputation building. I can only do it by bowing my knee and opening my heart to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
While I’ve always tried to practice a life lived without ego the fact is that being a pastor brought with it an element of status and self-importance. It has been good to let that go and rediscover the humble path where Jesus meets us, walks with us and guides us. You see, it’s his path. He created it and he welcomes those who walk it. Choosing to walk it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice that the Spirit helps us make. I would like to make that choice more and I’d love to walk with you on it.
Grace and peace.