Jesus, in this coming Sunday’s Gospel, opens a discussion by wanting to know what His disciples had been talking about the last few miles of their journey. He of course had been in the front leading them, but behind him, He could hear that they were having a rather heated discussion. Now, that everyone was gathered together and sitting down, Jesus desired to know what it was that had caused such a lively and heated discussion. He wanted them to share, so that they could all talk about it together, calmly and rationally.
What the disciples and others that followed did not know was that Jesus knew exactly what they had been discussing. He knew it was about personal ambition, about wanting to be the best, about even wanting to be the greatest. What they did not know was that such discussion didn’t bother Jesus at all. In fact, it allowed Jesus the opportunity to help them understand how they could in fact be the best disciple possible.
There are many who think and share the same hopes and desires that the 12 Disciples did. The desire to be the best that one can be. The desire to excel.
Jesus begins by telling everyone that instead of worrying about being in first place, they should instead be concerned about being last. Jesus wants his disciples to focus their attention on how they serve one another rather than focusing on having others look up at them as being successful or great.
He is saying, plan to be the last person to be served. Plan to be the last person who desires to have all their needs and wants met. Plan to be the last person because you have determined, that you will instead be the servant of everyone else.
What Jesus was attempting to get them to understand is greatness is not to be found in possessing some title or position. Greatness and success is found in possessing the ability to pick up a towel and serve others. Greatness and success is found in one’s ability to humble oneself in true service and in living out a life of Christian servanthood.
If we can focus on the very least and last of society, then we will naturally take care of everyone else. Jesus knew if we could serve the very least then it would be easy for us to serve anyone and everyone.
This is not easy to hear, to understand or model in our everyday lives. The world does not think like this. Our world tells us that we will not gain the corner office by making sure that other’s needs are met. Our world tells us that we must look first after ourselves. After making sure our own needs are met, then we can look after others. This is not the life that Jesus has for us or modeled for us.
We cannot do this on our own. On our own, we will still be reaching for the “APPLE,” so that we can obtain a state of greatness, so that we can be successful and great in our own sight. However, in Jesus we can be transformed into His image and become a true servant.