The Blessing of Being Last

Mark 9:30-41

The drive to become famous is becoming highly-valued for many people in our culture. That's the conclusion of two social observers. In a (2014) speech, New York Times columnist David Brooks says, "Fame used to be low value. Now fame is the second-most desired thing in young people. They did a study (and asked), "Would you rather be president of Harvard or Justin Bieber's personal assistant, (or another) celebrity's personal assistant?" And of course, by three to one people would rather be (a celebrity's) personal assistant.

Today I'm not writing on how to become famous, but the blessings of being last. In our text today Jesus is turning the value system of the world upside down. His teaching is radical and mind-blowing. No wonder they did not understand. In our world, everything is about "me". Jesus died to free us from slavery of selfishness and all sin. He died to free us to serve and to walk the road of true greatness. It is the road that He Himself walked as He "did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). However, if we are going to walk the road of true greatness, there is a character quality we cannot do without and that is humility.

The blessing of being last means putting other people first. There are three things believers must be willing to overcome. First, we must overcome the desire of pride. Second, we must overcome the desire of position. Jesus did not condemn greatness; He simply redefined it. We should be great in the things that matter to God. Third, we must overcome the desire for prominence. Jesus illustrated what it meant to be a servant to all: "He took a child and had him stand among them." The child was a perfect example of serving the least of these.

Furthermore, the blessing of being last means avoiding all forms of prejudice. Humility seeks to serve all, whereas, pride promotes exclusivity. In other words, pride seeks to exclude serving certain types of people. This is not acceptable on the Christian journey. We must be willing to serve all, no matter who they are. Lastly, realize that no service is too small. Humility seeks any kind of service, whereas, pride picks and chooses. When we serve Jesus in this way, He considers it a precious gift given unto Him.

One final thought: always keep your focus on the gospel. The blessing of being last is that those we serve, see Christ in us and surrender to His love.

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