Lent Devotional: Mark 9:33-35
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by Allison Davis
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said
to them,“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
One of my favorite overarching themes in Scripture is Jesus’ “Upside-Down Kingdom.”
Time and time again, Christ takes the world’s way of doing things, society’s values, and turns them on their heads.
The King of Israel? It’s not any of the tall, strong sons of Jesse, but David… “the youngest” who was “keeping the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
The Savior of the world? He’s not a warrior king, but a baby born in Bethlehem.
The atoning sacrifice for our sins? It’s not an animal, but the Son of God Himself.
The hero of the parable? It’s not the priest or the religious Levite, but the Samaritan—a race hated by Jews.
The persecuted? “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
The greatest? They are the servants. Afterall, Jesus said: “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).
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, Paul says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
The idea that the greatest person—the top dog, number one—is the one who becomes last and serves is certainly foolish in the eyes of the world! Is it not true in Christ, however? Jesus is God incarnate, meaning God in human form. If anyone had the right to be “greatest” by the world’s standards, it was him! Yet in Philippians 2 we see that Jesus humbled himself by 1. Becoming man and 2. Dying—and not just dying, but dying on a cross.
In Christ, God really is the greatest and first. He is the servant of all. As Christians (a word meaning “little Christs”), we are to follow in the footsteps of our Savior. Instead of seeking power, let us seek opportunities to serve one another. Instead of seeking applause, let us applaud others. Instead of discounting children, let us value them and their contributions to the world as Jesus did. Spend some time today reflecting on Jesus’ Upside-Down Kingdom. What other passages in Scripture reinforce this idea? Who can you serve today? Also, make sure you spend time thanking Jesus for coming not to be served, but to serve!