The Last Will Be First

Those who humble themselves will be exalted.—Matthew 23:12

Recently I was among the last in line to board a large passenger jet with unassigned seating. I located a middle seat beside the wing, but the only spot for my bag was the overhead compartment by the very last row. This meant I had to wait for everyone to leave before I could go back and retrieve it.

I laughed as I settled into my seat and a thought occurred to me that seemed to be from the Lord: “It really won’t hurt you to wait. It will actually do you good.” So I resolved to enjoy the extra time, helping other passengers lower their luggage after we landed and assisting a flight attendant with cleaning. By the time I was able to retrieve my bag, I laughed again when someone thought I worked for the airline.

That day’s experience made me ponder Jesus’s words to His disciples: “Anyone who wants to be first, must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

I waited because I had to, but in Jesus’s “upside down” kingdom, there’s a place of honor for those who voluntarily set themselves aside to attend to others’ needs.

Jesus came into our hurried, me-first world not “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). We serve Him best by serving others. The lower we bend, the closer we are to Him. —James Banks

Loving Lord, help me to follow You into the needs of others and serve You there.

Jesus’s kingdom is upside-down.

INSIGHT: Mark 9 is an action-packed chapter in our second gospel account. The chapter opens with the transfiguration of Jesus (vv. 1-13), where Peter, James, and John witness the glory of Christ and the voice of the Father while seeing Moses and Elijah join Jesus on the mountain to discuss His coming death and resurrection. Then, after descending the mountain and entering the valley below, the Lord of light is confronted by the power of darkness—from which He rescues a demon-possessed boy (vv. 14-29). After Jesus reminds the disciples of His coming death and resurrection (vv. 3-32), the disciples argue about which of them will have the highest place in the kingdom. This discussion of greatness initiates Jesus’s call to servanthood. After hearing how their Master would sacrifice Himself for them, they must be reminded that they too were called to lay themselves down for the benefit of others.

 Our natural inclination is to put self first. How might you intentionally look to serve someone today? Bill Crowder


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