“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
How old do you wish you were right now? That sounds like a strange question, doesn’t it? But the truth is that we are always wishing that we were a different age than our own.
So, you might be 13 years old and I would be willing to bet that you wish you were 16 (for obvious reasons). And if you’re 16, then you might wish you were 22 (so you could belt out that Taylor Swift song and really mean it). It almost seems that the younger we are, the older we want to be. Everyone is in a rush to grow up!
Why is that? I guess there are many answers to that question, but the one that seems most obvious is that we think that the older we are, the more important we’ll be. And, let’s face it, we all want to feel important. Jesus’ disciples were no exception to this; they all wanted to be important too.
One day as they were walking together along a road they began to argue about which one was the most important. I can only imagine how that argument might have progressed. “We all love you, Peter, but you’ve got quite a temper, and I just don’t see you advancing very far in the kingdom,” says Thaddeus. “Oh, really? Well, just yesterday I went up on a mountain with Jesus and he turned into a bright light and then Moses and Elijah appeared next to him. And, uh, I didn’t see you up there. Hmm” (see Mark 9 if you need the back story). You know how these things go, right?
And then the embarrassing question came from Jesus, “So, what were you guys discussing on the way here?” Yeah, not exactly the finest hour for the disciples. And then Jesus does one of those inexplicable things that Jesus always seems to do. He takes a child into his arms and says, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Whoa.
And then just a little bit later as they were moving through a crowd, all these people started bring their children to Jesus, and the disciples (who obviously weren’t listening earlier!) were trying to stop the kids from getting to him. So, Jesus got a little upset and said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them…you all must become like children to enter my kingdom!”
You see, Jesus was always turning things upside down. We all trying to grow up and be important, and Jesus stops us and says, “I want you to be a servant…I want you to be like a little child.”
Now here’s the question: what does that mean exactly? In a nutshell, it means that Jesus doesn’t care how important you are, or how important other people think you are…he cares about how important you think HE is. He wants us to become like children in this way: little kids can’t do very much on their own, they have to trust their parents to take care of all their needs. Jesus wants you to remain childlike with him…to realize that you really can’t do anything without him.
So, maybe today instead of trying to be more important or more grown up, you might think about how growing up in Jesus is really growing down. It’s not rising up above other people, it’s humbling yourself before them.