By Michael E. Brooks
?But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all'” (Mark 10:42-44).
I was in line at the Rupsha ferry ghat again, waiting for what seemed an interminable time. The line was longer than usual and much slower. I finally asked why it was taking so long. “There is a Very Important Person coming to cross the ferry and they have taken one boat out of service and are holding it for him”, was the reply. Hundreds of people were made to wait for extra hours to accommodate the convenience of one official. It struck me that that is precisely the kind of “lording over” which Jesus was talking about.
Nothing provides greater inducement to worldly leaders than the feeling of power and importance, which their position allows. This sense of worth is validated by all the special privileges and honors that they receive. The best seat in a crowded room, first service at a meal, special titles and awards, and many other “perks” are all designed to build up the pride and ego of the recipient, and to emphasize the difference between leader and led. The people are to honor and obey; the leader has a privileged position, in many cases not directly accountable to his followers. Though some forms of government seek to deny and prevent these conditions, few, if any, are successful.
Jesus offers a true and lasting solution. “It shall not be so among you,” he said. In the Church there is to be no pride of position or demand for special privilege. Rather the mark of honor among Christians is servanthood. The one who would be great must first become small. We must learn to serve one another, to look after the interests of others rather than expect them to look after ours. This is the path to true honor in the eyes of Christ. The Church is not to be led by high officials, but by lowly and meek servants.
The true example of this is Jesus himself. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This week as we have witnessed the tribute of millions to a deceased church official, honored and elevated above all others of his generation on earth, one wonders whether Jesus would have allowed such pageantry for himself. The simple fact is, he did not. He died as a criminal, “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). He was abandoned by his family and closest followers, and buried in a borrowed tomb. He did not come to the earth to be served, worshipped or honored. He came to serve us, and to die for our sins. He calls upon us to live by his principles, to dedicate ourselves not to our own ambitions, but to doing his will, and helping his people.
I cannot imagine Jesus calling ahead hours before his arrival and ordering a ferry to be held open for whenever he might come. I cannot imagine him receiving tribute from assembled multitudes while the needs of all mankind go unmet. The Jesus we are led to know took a towel and a basin of water and said, “let me wash your feet.” May we become that kind of servant, and that kind of leader, in his Kingdom.
By Michael E. Brooks