“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles . . . exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” — Matthew 20:25-26
The family of Zebedee had a plan. Jesus was gaining a reputation. Word was getting around about his miracles and teachings. The Zebedee brothers, James and John, had been among the first to follow Jesus, and now they wanted to make sure they would have top positions in Jesus’ kingdom. But Jesus was not impressed.
People spend a lot of energy seeking to establish themselves, trying to prove their worth, and seeking the best possible benefits and rewards. But Jesus teaches a radically different understanding of greatness and power. True greatness takes on the form of a servant, submitting to the will of God. True greatness in the kingdom of God recognizes that our salvation is secure and our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have done nothing to earn it, and we can’t do anything to deserve it.
True power in the kingdom of God lets go of the need to be noticed and the need to be first. True power seeks first a life of righteousness, healing, and restoration for all. This way of life will most likely not get you noticed. Neither will it make you first in people’s minds. But a life lived doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8) has the life-giving power of the gospel.
Lord Jesus, may our lives reflect the power, greatness, and love you revealed to us through your life, death, and resurrection. Make us servants of justice and instruments of peace, we pray. Amen.