Phil Cox

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The Servant of All

30th April 2011

Mark 9v30-32
They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

As Jesus began his last journey towards Jerusalem, He found quiet places so He could talk to His disciples privately and without interruption. He tried once more to explain that He was going to be crucified. But they just couldn't understand. Jesus was the King of the Jews, the Messiah - God's Anointed One, the King of Glory, the Son of David. Surely He would triumph over His enemies. The idea the Jesus would achieve that triumph by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead was unthinkable for them.

But they knew something mysterious and deep was happening, and they knew Jesus was telling them something important, and they knew they didn't understand. This all made them "afraid to ask him about it".

Mark 9v33-34
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

These were well-meaning people. They had the decency to be ashamed when Jesus let them know that he'd overhead them on the road. They knew they'd been wrong to argue about their status and position. They didn't bluster or argue. They'd sinned and they knew it, and they were silent before Jesus.

In the world of business, people fight for position, status, money and power. They fight in various ways, some with a greater or lesser sense of decency than others. When a manager retires, for example, many of those who worked for him will want his job, and will often slander and cheat each other to get it. This fight for prominence happens in other situations, too, even in the school playground. Perhaps it's most obvious in politics, where parties and individuals seek to destroy each other's reputations as they attempt to gain electoral advantage.

Such things must never happen in the church.

Mark 9v35
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

Jesus had just explained that He was going to lay down His life for us. The disciples couldn't imagine that kind of self-sacrifice. Now he explained the nature of leadership in the Kingdom of God. In leadership, as in all things, we are to emulate our Saviour. Jesus our Leader was our Servant, and a church leader must be the servant of every member of the church. To be a church leader is to be the servant of all. It is to be last - more of a servant than anybody else.

Mark 9v36-37
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

To lead a church is to take care of the vulnerable, to pay particular attention to those that others might ignore, to welcome those who cannot give us anything back, to seek to love as Jesus loves.

If you're a church leader, and if you've fallen into expecting the church to serve you, then will you, like the disciples, stand silent before Jesus as he reminds us that we are called to be the servants of all?

Mark 9v42-45
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."