A never ending fight amongst children: who will get to go first?
Push, shove, cut in line, race to get there. And if you can’t win the race just start chanting, “First is the worst, second is the best.” Alternately, change it up with, “FIRST one there is a rotten egg!”
Say what you will, but, seriously, we all know you really wanted to be first.
As an adult, being first might not be the language we use but the principle is the same. The struggle is still real. Jesus even encountered this with the disciples. Mark 10 records this encounter with Jesus.
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.
There it is: the desire to be first, to be special, to have a place of honor. These disciples who were right there living life with Jesus, hearing his teaching, witnessing miracles, learning His ways… they still struggled with wanting their place secured, a place of importance.
42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Scripture doesn’t record the disciples response. Did they get it? Did it leave them disappointed? Did they understand? I don’t know.
What I do know is that for me this is one of those “rubber meets the road” kind of moments. Jesus has given us a powerful teaching in both words and loving example. He shows us what it means to be first but to choose to serve, to put others before yourself. Now how are we going to apply it? It won’t be easy. It might even seem “unnatural.” But in this “upside down kingdom” teaching, Jesus is clear.
How do His words speak to you right where you are today? What does this scripture teach you about God? What do you learn about yourself (or humanity in general)? And how does this impact how you think and live?