To Serve and Not Be Served

When I was a young teenager at family outings, my cousin Dan and I would separate ourselves from the younger cousins to show how cool we were because we were older than them. We eventually let them get closer as we got older, but I remember our rudeness to them even as they looked up to us. The Gospel of Matthew tells us of a biblical mother named Salome, who like many of you moms, could easily identify with her as a devoted wife, mother, and close friend to Jesus and His family, and who also wanted entitlements for her sons. She faced no difficulty in persuading her sons, James and John, to accompany her in obedience to the Master’s side. Salome was ambitious for her sons, and ambition is commendable when it is in full agreement with the mind and purpose of God. Ambition, when divinely directed, can lead to the heights of honor, but when selfishly pursued, can come to great embarrassment. Salome knew that Christ was the Messiah. Feeling that the kingdom would soon be established, she requested that her sons be placed one on Christ’s right hand and the other on His left when He inaugurated His kingdom. Although such a demand arose from maternal pride, it did not arise from true faith because she didn’t know what she asked when she requested seats of honor for her sons. Here is Jesus’ answer. “First,” Jesus said, “You don’t understand what you are asking, for this position must first come in suffering and not glory.” Secondly, Jesus asked if her sons were prepared to drink the cup of martyrdom, and implied that James and John would share His throne of suffering. Salome came to learn that the only way to this place of honor she requested would be through sacrificial service. “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”

Can you see the lesson here for your own life? Eventually, what Salome learned from walking with Jesus and her search for earthly crowns for her sons, was that losing their lives for Christ’s sake was the only way they gained greater honor in heaven. Jesus knew what was coming and that was the cup of God’s wrath for the sins of the world. “Can you drink My cup?”, He asked. They still thought they could and replied, “Yes, we can drink that cup”. Here Jesus is teaching us about the quality of our service. To serve and not be served. Not being too quick to seek entitlements or positions of authority, or visual placement for all to see. Jesus says, “I did not come to be served but to serve.”