And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:33-35
It’s a challenge for most people to put themselves last. We experience that every day in traffic. People want to cut in front of each other. There are very few people willing to let others go first. Traffic, grocery check-out lines, movie theater tickets, or Black Friday shopping bargains: all have very few “You-go-first-ers“.
It’s understandable. I once saw a movie from the very first row of the theater. No fun! Who wants to miss out on a 65” TV for $199? And don’t get me started on driving. I am constantly reminding myself that it’s not a race, and I don’t own the road!
The real challenge of putting others first is to keep our motives pure. We don’t do that so that we can be first. It’s not a trick we pull on God or our neighbor by putting others first believing that in the end we will be rewarded the best seat, the fastest lane, or the limited-time-offer.
Jesus tells us that life is more than getting the best seat, the fastest lane, or any other of the spoils of being first. In fact, Jesus says that if we want to be first we should put ourselves last. Lowest seat. Place of service. This is where Jesus followers should be found.
Jesus not only teaches this, but lives it out. He became servant of all and sacrificed himself for us. His last-place sacrifice gave way to complete and total exaltation. He reigns above all. Every knee will bow to him. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – to the glory of God the Father. Those who are his will enjoy the spoils of his exaltation.