A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the disciples asking Jesus, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus surprised them with His answer. He brought a child and and then told them, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:4).
Humility is key.
A few chapters later in Matthew, this same subject of who is the greatest is addressed once again. This time, the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling before Jesus, she asked Him for her sons to sit at His right hand and left hand in the kingdom. This mom was going to make sure her sons were successful, that they had the prominent positions.
I know how she felt. As a mom of three sons, I would do anything to make sure of their success in life. Again, Jesus’ answer was probably unexpected. He tells her about drinking the cup He is about to drink, and then in Matthew 20:26, He says this, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus’ ideas of greatness don’t often match up with our own and certainly not the culture that we live in. For most of us, greatness is recognized as wealth and power and prestige and influence. But in these passages, greatness is marked by humility and being a servant. I like the first definition better, but if I am to be like Jesus, I will wholeheartedly pursue humility and serving others. There really is no other way to be like Jesus. He came to serve and give His life and so must we. Jesus, help us to be like you, to walk in humility and to serve and give our lives for the sake of your kingdom.