Matthew 20:26–28 (ESV): 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The buildup to this teaching is fascinating. At the beginning of Matthew 19, Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question about divorce, taking a much stricter stance than seemingly anyone was ready for.
Jesus then, by example, taught the disciples the value of children by blessing them instead of refusing them time.
Next, the rich young man came seeking eternal life, but went away sad because he was unwilling to give away all his possessions to follow Jesus.
Matthew 20 begins with a story about laborers in the vineyard and a master who continued hiring workers, even up to one hour before quitting time, and then paying them all the same wage.
Jesus foretold his death a third time, which may have prompted James and John’s mother to come with her sons to Jesus, seeking high positions for them in his kingdom. After denying this request, Jesus had to quell the uproar among his other disciples, and taught them this highlighted truth.
Interestingly, Jesus practiced his teaching in the very next few verses as two blind men approached him, asking to be healed, and he did so willingly.
Following Jesus and being part of his kingdom is not about perks, status, power, or position. Rather, Jesus calls us to serve, as he has served. The way of the King is down, not up. But by becoming less, we become greater.
Heavenly Father, make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And by so doing, may I glorify your name and please you with my stewardship of the life you have given me, Amen.