Jesus was following the crowds to Jerusalem for the Passover. His followers were grumbling behind Him.
Matthew: “I can’t believe we’re going back to Jerusalem. The last time we were there the priests tried to stone Him.”
Bartholomew: “I know. I thought we’d stay incognito. Instead we’re just marching right in with everyone else.”
Thomas: “It has to be time to set up the kingdom. There’s nothing else for Him to do.”
Jesus stepped off the main trail into a clearing. His disciples gathered around Him.
Jesus looked at each one of them. “We’re going to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over to the religious authorities. Everything the prophets recorded will come to pass. The Gentiles will mock, spit upon, scourge, and crucify the Son of Man. But, after three days He will rise again.”
The mother of James and John pushed through the crowd of men. She pulled each of her sons behind her. When she reached Jesus she bowed to the ground.
Jesus smiled at her. “What do you want from me?”
She stood and searched Jesus’s eyes. “I want You to reserve the seats on either side of Your throne for my sons here. One on your right hand, the other on Your left.”
The smile left Jesus’s face. “You don’t know what you’re asking of me.”
He looked from James to John, then back to James. “Are you ready to drink the cup I am about to drink or receive My baptism?”
They nodded. “Yes, we are.”
Jesus stood back. “You will surely drink My cup and receive my baptism, but to grant the seats on My sides is not for Me to give. That is reserved by My Father alone.
The group of men stirred. “Who do they think they are? How do they think they’re better than any of us? I can’t believe the audacity to ask such a thing.”
Jesus held up one hand. “Stop. You know how the Gentile rulers flaunt their power over others and demand respect. That is NOT to be the attitude you are to have. Instead, if any of you wishes to be above anyone else he shall take on the attitude of a servant. That’s right. The best of you will see himself as a slave to others. The Son of Man who came from God the Father could demand respect, but even He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for mankind. Follow My example and serve each other.”
After a minute of silence Jesus turned back to the road and led His men to Jerusalem.
That final journey to Jerusalem must have been filled with so many unexpected twists and turns. This one was likely the most breath-taking of them all.
“Did Jesus just tell us to become servants and slaves?”
“What kind of kingdom is He establishing anyway?”
“How does somebody lead by being lower than the ones he’s leading?”
Those were possibly some of the thoughts that bounced around in the disciples’ minds the rest of the trip to the Holy City.
And this was just the beginning of the most tumultuous week of their lives.
They lived during the time of slaves and masters so they knew exactly what Jesus was telling them to do. We can only wonder and guess at best to the full meaning of that statement.
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How well are you doing at this slave thing anyway?
Yeah, Jesus was talking to us, too.
Don’t go thinking about yourself as higher than you ought. You’re called to be a slave to others.
Are you giving of yourself to further the kingdom?
How hard does the Holy Spirit have to prod you to volunteer or just do the obvious task at hand?
Before we get too far into this I know some of you do too much and need to let others step up to carry some of the burden at your church. Especially if you attend a small church.
But, too many people sit back and expect to enter a worship zone by being entertained every Sunday morning. That’s all they came in the door for. Jesus ain’t happy with those folks.
We each need to make a difference where we can.
It may be a small thing, but it needs to be something.
I’m thinking past the church venue, too.
Do you shovel the snow off your elderly neighbor’s walk while you’re clearing your walk?
Will it really kill you to mow that single mom’s lawn once in a while?
If you give the kids near you some of your time they may give you more respect in return.
You see, being a slave isn’t that hard. It will take some effort, but so did the crucifixion.
A bit over thirty years before Jesus told His disciples to become slaves he was seated at the right hand of God.
He knew His death was imminent. He kept walking to His death for you and for me.
There’s that theme of dying to self again.
The kingdom demanded Jesus to die. There was no getting around it.
Jesus is commanding us to be slaves for the kingdom.
Volunteer where you can. Encourage others to join you. They need to put servitude into practice, too.
If each of us worked at serving others better the kingdom would be overflowing with new believers.
Too many people treat church as if it’s a club for believers. Instead it should be a walk-in service center.
Everybody should be fed not just the folks preparing the food.
Take turns skipping a worship service to help with the kids so their parents can experience worshiping God on Sunday morning.
You’ll be surprised how much worshiping you can do while you’re calming a toddler.
That’s being Jesus to the least of these in the realest sense of the term.
That’s being a servant on the floor.
I’ll see you later. Wade