As Jesus made His way toward Jerusalem for His final Passover, He repeated a principle to His disciples several times. The repetition for them ought to echo in our own minds as well.
What did Jesus say? Very simply:
The last shall be first, and the first last. —Matt. 19:30; 20:16, 27
The principle rubs against our grain because we want equity with others, and we feel justifiably peeved when someone gets something for nothing or when they elbow their way to greatness ahead of us (20:1-16-24).
Jesus redefined greatness as servanthood—first as last—and used Himself as an example who came to give His life for others (vv. 25-28).
His words continued in Jerusalem.
How to See Yourself and Your Position
When Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees seating themselves “in the chair of Moses,” He referred to a physical seat that represented a place of authority (Matt. 23:1-12). A “seat of Moses” was unearthed in the synagogue in Chorazin and today rests in Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.
Jesus revealed that authority exists to serve, and God defines greatness by those who humble themselves.
To all of us who have in a place of influence (and we all do)—in church, or in the corporate world, or in the home—Jesus urges us to see our positions not as a place of personal exaltation, but to see our roles as servants.
Graves Give Us a Look inside Our Hearts
The tombs on the Mount of Olives today represent the largest Jewish graveyard in the world. They illustrate well what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees on the Temple Mount within eyesight of this location:
You are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. —Matt. 23:27
(Photo: Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives tombs)
The Lord’s rebuke to them offers a biting reminder to us that the image of spirituality we present to others in church and on social media should reflect a heart that truly loves Jesus Christ without a double standard.
Honesty in a context of grace overcomes hypocrisy.
Our Privilege of Participation
One day in the Temple the Lord taught what a privilege it is to believe in God. Through vineyard parables, Jesus likened bearing fruit to believing in Him (Matt. 21:19, 25-32). Christ told the leaders that belief results in the privilege of participation in God’s kingdom, an opportunity they shouldn’t assume as an entitlement. Turns out, that generation of Israel missed the opportunity for the kingdom to come, and another would enjoy it (v. 43).
The good news? ANY of us—no matter what we’ve done—can enter God’s kingdom if we believe (v. 31).
After we believe, we must continue to see our place in life as a privilege—just as salvation is—given by the grace of God. And the purpose of that privilege? To serve Him and others.
How to See Yourself through 3 Amazing Truths
Jesus shows us how He wants us to see ourselves.
- See yourself as God’s servant.
- See your heart as a mirror of honesty without hypocrisy.
- See your participation in life and ministry as a privilege.