“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” – Matthew 20:26-27
About three months ago, I met in my office with two of our amazing staff members: Patrick, our Worship Director, and Christie, our Children’s Ministries Director. Our congregation had just voted to move our church to a more central location with a new name and new determination to make a greater impact in our community. I said to Patrick and Christie, “We do some really good ministry here at First Christian Church. But as we make this big move and launch Impact Christian Church, we need to move from good to great.”
But what is “great”? In Matthew 20, two of Jesus’ disciples learned an important lesson about what true greatness looks like in Jesus’ kingdom. James and John, using their mother as a messenger, basically asked for the two best thrones in Christ’s kingdom—one on Christ’s left and one on his right. They wanted the seats of honor and authority right next to Jesus. Now, that takes guts! And Jesus’ answer was … “No! Not gonna happen!"
You see, the path to greatness in Christ’s kingdom is much different from the path to greatness that we are accustomed to in our culture. The path to greatness in Christ’s kingdom requires sacrifice and suffering. “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” The word “cup,” as it’s used here and elsewhere in the Bible, is a metaphor for suffering. So, Jesus asked James and John, “Are you willing to sacrifice and suffer the way I’m going to sacrifice and suffer?” Both men immediately answered, “Yes.” But they had no clue how much Jesus was about to sacrifice and suffer.
Afterward, Jesus seized this teachable moment to pull all twelve of his disciples together and teach them about true greatness. His words in verses 25-28 are so important for every Christian to grasp: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus was God in human flesh. That being the case, he had every right to ask his followers to wait on him hand and foot. But he freely relinquished this right because he so loved the world that he came to seek and save the lost. Paul says it so well in Philippians 2:5-7. He writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” Here in Matthew 20, as Jesus had his sights set on the cross, his message to his disciples was loud and clear: “I’m not asking you to serve ME. I came to earth to serve YOU.”
Most of you have probably heard the famous words spoken by President John F. Kennedy at his inauguration. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” These are some of the most enduring words ever spoken by a
president. But when you think about it, President Kennedy—whether he realized
it or not—was basically just asking us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as citizens
of this great nation. U.S.
We could just as easily apply Jesus’ instruction about serving to our marriages, to our friendships, to our work life and to our church. “Husbands, ask not what your wife can do for you. Ask what you can do for your wife.” “Wives, ask not what your husband can do for you. Ask what you can do for your husband.” How much healthier would our marriages be if we asked this question every day? “Ask not what your friends can do for you. Ask what you can do for your friends.” “Ask not what your coworkers can do for you. Ask what you can do for your coworkers.” If you and I will follow in Jesus’ footsteps and serve others without expecting them to somehow repay us for that service…it will transform our marriages, our families, our friendships, our workplaces, our church and our community.
Who would have thought that the path to greatness would be the path of serving and humility? Jesus, that’s who. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life. As we launch Impact Christian Church, I pray that we will follow in Jesus’ footsteps. I pray that we will humbly serve each other and serve our community. As we do, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will have a greater impact in the
for Jesus Christ. And best of all, lots of people are going to come home to
Jesus. Victor Valley
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for our Worship Celebration every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the new
in Victorville. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc. Ralph