Bible Reading: Matthew 20:20-34
“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Like the two sons of Zebedee — James and John — the ambition for pride and honour are incredibly noticeable in our lives. We often long to serve God for acceptance, guilt-appeasement, pleasing others. We long to be valued for our work, and we long for others to praise us. We have grand ambitions for God because we want to climb the ladder, get to the top above everyone else, and desire the power, authority, and respect that comes in the package.
In a tight-packed schedule, I think to myself — “why do I busy myself with multiple ministries? Why do I pursue academic rigour? Why do I squeeze my time for tasks beyond my ability?” So often, I find the still small voice in my heart whispering, “you want the honour. You want the boast at the end where everyone will acknowledge that you are the best”. Every time, my heart is crushed when I realise my blatant opposition to God’s will.
Moreover, like James and John, when Jesus asks, “you do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” I so quickly reply, “I am able”. How foolish to think that I could please God in my strength and capability and receive the glory reserved for Christ.
Jesus teaches all of us that in His school, living for God is not about the honour or prize you earn. That is what “the rulers of the Gentiles” seek; to gain power and authority to do whatever pleases them. Though for us, children of God, it is not so. In Christ’s school, to be great is to be a servant. To be first is to be a slave. In Jewish culture, servants and slaves were the lowliest of lowly occupations. It was the dirtiest and worst job you could ever have. Yet, the truth comes in paradox. Greatness is not how much you succeed in building yourself up. Greatness is found in how much you give yourself for the sake of others.
Christ, Himself is the Great One. He is the only example in whose steps we must follow. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). As the second person of the Trinity, Christ did not demand justice, honour and respect. He is Holy, and He is worthy to demand such things. However, in His wrath, He does not wipe us out; instead, Christ came down from heaven to earth to seek the lost through the only way. He came to give His life in our place as a ransom, to take God’s justice and wrath upon Himself. Towards us, unworthy men, he healed the blind and sick.
v. 29 – 34 is a recount of Jesus healing two blind men. They cried out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked and scorned them. However, Jesus stopped and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”. When they asked for their eyes to be opened, Jesus recovered their sight, and these two men “followed Him”.
Jesus came as a servant to seek the blind. A world darkened by sin, He came to save. While we were wallowing in the blackness of our sin, in our rejection of Him, Jesus came from heaven to meet with us, to open our eyes, to change our hearts, that we would be followers of Him. Jesus was a great man. Yet, He was not only 100% man, but He was also 100% God. He is the Truth, and His ways are right.
As children of God, seek not honour or name. Seek to serve with all your heart, time and effort. Give your all to live for God, to serve others that they may to come to know our God because He first came to serve us. Give to God every second, every moment. In humility, serve Him, serve others. Pray that one day, when we meet Him, He shall say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, emphasis added)
Lord, please forgive my selfish ways. My days and my ministries I have used for myself. I seek to honour myself when I try and serve You. Please forgive me because I steal Your glory. Teach me the path of humility. Teach me to be a servant as You were a servant. Mould me like Christ that I may please You in living a life truly as Your servant, not a life for myself. Help me, God. I surrender my whole life, every second of it, to be used as your servant. Hold fast onto me because “apart from You, I am nothing”. Thank You that You are faithful and that You have died for my sins. You have opened my eyes from the darkness of sin. Praise be to You the Great Servant. Make me like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.