I had a little conversation with my 13-year-old the other day.

You see…she is…

How do I say it?

A tad selfish.

I know! Parents of teenage children will be so shocked by this!

Okay…sarcasm over.

I had to have a gentle sit down with her about the virtue of putting others first.

Say, you and another person get to an entrance at the same time; the polite thing to do would be to say, “Go ahead.” or “You first,” or anything nice that would allow that person to go ahead of you.

Not walk through the door letting it close behind you as though no one is standing there.

Sometimes in life you’ll need to do things for someone you love–or someone you don’t even know–because it helps them and not yourself.

Ahhhh the whole selfish thing. We all get stuck in it. I know. Believe me, I am not immune.

And, neither were Jesus’ disciples.

In Mark 9, this crew of guys fell silent.


Because they’d been so busy fussing over who was the greatest among them they were too embarrassed to tell Jesus what they’d been discussing.

Discussing and Fussing.

Oh, Boy. Two ingredients for a nasty revelation.

So, since they knew better than to have the conversation they were having, they chose right now to keep their mouths shut. The funny part is: Did they really think Jesus didn’t know?

It reminds me of when God asked Adam and Eve where they were in the garden when they sinned and hid from him. At least in these two confessed that they sinned and were hiding. Our guys? They evidently said nothing.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:33-37 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

And, what did Jesus do? He called them out on it.

Doesn’t he always do that?

In verse 35, he sat down and called the twelve. It doesn’t say he asked them again what they were discussing. It doesn’t say they told him. It says “they kept quiet.” So, Jesus does what he always does: have a little sit-down lesson.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35 (NIV)

Jesus came to be our servant.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV) (Emphasis added)

And, here’s what happened because he did it:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

In our scripture today (Mark 9:35), Jesus told his followers that the only way to be first is to “be the very last and servant of all.” Not almost last. Not next to the last. But…

The very last and servant of all.

Jesus set an example of this for us. He washed feet. He fed thousands. He healed who knows how many. He never once used his gifts for greed or selfish ambition. And, most of the time, he told people not to tell anyone how they were healed. If we’d had social media back then, I’m thinking Jesus would not have been much of a fan.

It wasn’t about him. It was about our Father in Heaven.

Jesus gave us so many examples of how the Kingdom of Heaven works. And, in part of the Lord’s Prayer, we as followers say:

…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6: 10 (NIV)

If we truly want the Kingdom of God on earth, we must read the word and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That is why he came here. That is what he was doing for his three years on this planet. He was teaching us. He is our great *rabboni.

So, today, I asked you:

Do you want to be first in that line?

Or, do you want to be the very last?

The conversation keeps going. It all started with one comment in response to this post. If you’d like to read it, please click here.

*Rabboni means “my great master” or “my great teacher.” It was “the most honourable of all the titles” and is only mentioned twice in the New Testament in Mark 10:51 and in John 20: 15-17, when Jesus speaks with Mary in the garden after his resurrection. Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com

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