"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." Mark 10:42-43
A controversy arose when two of Jesus’ disciples asked that they may receive the honor of being seated at His left and at His right when He takes His seat on His glorious Throne. This request offended the other disciples as they viewed it as jockeying for position in the Kingdom of God.
The two obviously wanted a position in God’s government which would place them above the other disciples, and the ten were indignant that James and John would be so presumptuous to make such a request.
Jesus’ answer was interesting and revealing. First He asked them if they understood what they would need to suffer first, and then explained that positions in the Kingdom were up to the Father. It was then that Jesus spoke what must have seemed like a contradiction. He told His disciples that if any of them wanted to be great then become the servant of the others.
In our text Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God works very much the opposite of the kingdoms of this world. In the world’s kingdoms great men lord it over their subjects and exercise authority over them. But He said that it will not be this way in the Kingdom of Heaven and whoever wishes to be great must become the servant.
In the world the great are served, but in the Kingdom the great serve. Jesus demonstrated this Himself on the last Passover when He got up from the table, girded Himself with a towel, took a basin of water and washed each of His disciple’s feet. In doing this He was doing the work of the lowest servant in the house.
And even when our glorified King establishes His Kingdom upon the earth, He will serve the saints at table, -"Blessed are those servants whom the Master will find on the alert when He comes; truly I say to you, that He will gird Himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them." (Luke 12)
This is not to say that the great will serve, but that to serve itself is greatness. "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."