“He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’”
This challenging part of Scripture says a lot about what it means to follow Jesus. In verse 33, Jesus asks the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the way?" He realized the disciples were preoccupied with their own argument about who was the greatest and weren't really listening to him. The disciples put themselves in competition with each other and it divided them.
This is one of the most relevant images of life right now. We disciples can get so carried away arguing about menial things that we forget the purpose of gathering together. We forget what it means to follow Christ. We forget that we are not called to be the greatest or have the greatest argument. Jesus says that our life following him means that we love our neighbors by serving them, not by competing with them. We can get so caught up in the temptation to compete with one another that we forget to show compassion. We get caught up in making ourselves look great that we overlook that we have made our neighbor look bad in the process. We get caught up in thinking the world is here for us and lose sight of the fact that we are here for the world. We get distracted from the work of following Jesus so easily.
Jesus gave them a lesson in hospitality. The disciples were talking about the Way of Competition and Jesus shifts their conversation to the Way of Hospitality or the Way of Welcome. Servanthood, hospitality, and welcome are defined by an unconditional welcoming of society’s last and lowest because it is in their faces that Jesus says we will find God.
As we reflect and refocus during this season of Lent, it is important to reflect on the times we have been more concerned about our own success than the success of others. Reflect on the times we have been more concerned about our own inclusion than the inclusion of others. What does it mean to be a servant? What does it mean to seek to be last? How can you adopt a Way of Welcome and Hospitality?
In your very being, you showed us a way of servanthood. Through the incarnation, life and ministry, death and resurrection of your Son, you gave us a picture of what it means to truly serve one another. We pray that you would empower us to take on a pattern of servanthood, a Way of Welcome, as we seek to serve our neighbors. Amen.