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“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.” ~ Mark 10:43-45

Talk about poor timing. Jesus had just finished describing in great detail how he would be captured and crucified before rising again three days later. This is the third time the gospel of Mark records Jesus predicting these events.

James and John come strolling up with a proposition. They asked Jesus if they can sit on either side of him in glory. When the other disciples heard about this, they didn’t rebuke James and John; instead they began to quarrel, basically about which disciple was the best.

It’s very interesting that James and John talked about being on either side of Jesus, because Jesus ended up being crucified with two criminals on either side of him. James and John envisioned sitting next to the King of the Jews. The problem with that is that the King of the Jews was beaten, mocked, and put to death on a cross. There was no glory found there. He had to endure a cross before he could wear a crown.

Jesus used this as a teaching moment about the kingdom of God. James and John thought that it was all about receiving the glory and adoration. Jesus pointed out that the kingdom of God is about being a servant. And the greatest in this kingdom would be a slave to all.

One side effect of the gospel is that it purifies your motives. You only want to do things because it pleases God. You don’t care about your own status or position. The next time you do something, even if it is for the most noble of causes, check your motives. If you are doing anything to get recognition, this is not from God. If your motive is to serve God by serving others, you are on the right path. It’s a path that involves taking up your cross daily and following Jesus.

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