Matthew 20:23-28 He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’
24When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Being First, Being Last
Jesus sure has a knack for turning the wisdom of the times–any times–on its head! I am often struck by this, particularly during the weeks leading to the Passion. God’s own Son offers Himself to be revered and lauded at the beginning of Holy Week, only to be betrayed, falsely judged, tortured, mocked, beaten, and murdered by week’s end. He’s a KING, for goodness’ sake–THE KING. Yet this was the plan? The people in that time wanted a military king to save them! Jesus was nothing of the sort. Lucky for us all, God’s logic and wisdom far surpasses humble human ideas and planning for the salvation of humanity.
Then and now, the powerful, strong, wealthy, and intelligent are the “ruling” class, to be followed, admired, and sought after. In Matthew 20:26b-28, Jesus totally defies this wisdom as He preaches, “instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be our slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As if on cue, a mere seven verses later in Matthew, Jesus rolls the script of the Holy Week, therein becoming the servant, the slave, and ultimately, the ransom. Praise be to Him who challenges our logic and challenges us to be better, while setting the ultimate example in offering Himself in our place.
Prayer: God, may we think the way you think. Let us see and know what is important. Let us judge as you judge from the cross.