Our scripture this week is Matthew 23:1-12.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Jesus explains that those who seek power and position for themselves are not hearing God’s call. He’s not saying that leadership is bad, instead He teaches that leaders must be responsible to God and those whom they serve. This is a very foreign concept in a world ruled by monarchs and military force.
Jesus tells the people “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted” (v. 12). This is a complete surprise to everyone, including His disciples. Later, He teaches “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus shows this servant leadership by washing their feet, a task normally performed by the lowest servant in the household.
Do we sometimes feel we are above the things Jesus calls us to do? We need to remember His love for all of us and His willingness to do whatever was necessary that we might be saved. We each have responsibilities to God and each other, and we must carry them out no matter how menial or thankless. Jesus did no less and He expects no less of us.
Loving Lord, sometimes it’s hard for us to accept our place and the things You ask of us. Help us to be humble servants of Your kingdom and Your children. Amen.