Matthew 20:26-28 - The Verses Project

Bible Matthew 20:26-28

Posted November 25, 2013

26 ...whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If someone asked you to write down your definition of greatness, what would you write? What about our culture? Perhaps outer success? Attractive physique? Financial gain? Overcoming the odds? Athletic prowess? Incredible musical talent? Here Jesus turns our definition of “greatness” on its head! Right before this, we are told that Gentiles lord their authority over other but Jesus strongly rejects this approach. Jesus teaches that true greatness is seen through service and humility and suffering on the behalf of others! He takes two of the lowest roles in Jewish culture (servant & slave) and calls his disciples to become them. Greatness in the church and amongst Christians is not to be as culture defines it (fame, outer beauty), but rather as Jesus defines it.

While this sounds like a great and beautiful idea in principle, reality hits us as we try to live it out. We are born selfish and turned inwardly on ourselves. As we resolve to serve our spouses or others in the way Jesus describes, we in turn discover that we either come up short or when we do serve, we do so for the wrong reasons. In our own strength, we will fail time and time again. What hope do we have, then? The great news is that Jesus is not only our example (He did this perfectly), but also the very one who empowers us to do this through his ransoming work on the cross! His life was given as a ransom (as a substitute, in exchange for) so that through faith in Him and His work on our behalf we might have power over our selfish and prideful ways! He, through His Spirit, wants to shift our center of gravity from self to others. This is not a change that happens overnight, but rather one that (in the words of Eugene Peterson) is worth “a long obedience in the same direction.”


Song by Aaron Strumpel.
Artwork by Chris Wright, photo by Sergey Kolivayko (@utmostcreative).