Mark 9:35: “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’”

We have friendly or unfriendly competitions going on all the time. Someone wants to be the greatest comedian, another wants to be the greatest pop star, and our businesses are thriving on the notion that we’re offering the greatest product. The most popular movies are celebrated, but did you know that the worst movies are listed also? This goes to show that in a way everything that stands out gets our attention, whether it’s extremely good or extremely bad.

How about nobody wins and nobody loses? Imagine the Olympic Games without winners and losers. “That’s no fun!” we say. We compete against each other to find out who is the greatest. We all don’t want to be the same, and competition is the antidote to sameness. We want to stand out – hopefully in a good way. If we can’t achieve that, sometimes we go the opposite way, just to attract attention.

Jesus chose a group of followers who were with Him every day. Twelve guys were chosen which already set them apart from the rest of the world. But of course that was not enough. So, on their way to Capernaum they had a discussion going on revolving around the subject of who among them was Jesus’s greatest choice. They kept their voices down so Jesus wouldn’t hear what they were talking about. But then Jesus has super-hearing. So He brought it up at dinnertime (Mark 9:33-35):

 “They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’”

“Got it!” some of his disciples might have thought to themselves. “I’m going to be the greatest servant of all times! I’m going to out-serve everybody until the cows come home!” To make a point, Jesus hugs a child and puts it in the middle, right in front of His disciples. This child hadn’t done anything spectacular to be set as an example, but here it was, small and defenseless, enjoying a good hug while smiling a toothless grin at the twelve men staring at him. Jesus certainly got their attention, so He went on to explain (Mark 9:37): 

“‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.’”

Instead of being concerned about greatness let’s be concerned about each other. That’s what we do when we serve: we look out for each other, and we have each other’s backs.

In a society with a short attention span and people constantly craving attention – let’s do everybody a favor and pay attention. See what happens if somebody listens and somebody cares. Wouldn’t you know it? Just one caring person – isn’t it amazing what a difference that makes?

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