“Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 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 10:42-45).
In another twist that made no sense had Jesus been setting up a military or political kingdom, the role of servant is elevated. And what the world regarded as greatness was basically of no value in God’s kingdom. Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught this upside down reality of the first shall be last and vice versa.
“Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me’ “ (Mark 9:35-37).
Jesus welcomed children. Jesus elevated children. Jesus elevated the humility of children. And Jesus elevated child-like faith. “And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ “ (Matthew 18:2-4).
The message could not be more clear. The greatest in the kingdom of heaven? The one who is the humble servant of all.