[#pictureLent] Mar. 4: Leading the Pack

By Sarah Miller
Tuskawilla UMC, Orlando, FL

First, read Mark 9:35

I have two miniature schnauzers and what matters most to them after snuggles and food are walks! Walks are essential!

My pups take two different approaches to walks: Samson is very laid back while Tala has to be first at all costs. She wants to rush the walks and at times ends up dragging me around the neighborhood after her. Samson, on the other hand, is content to be on the walk. He does not rush and he does not drag. He steadily moves forward knowing that it is good to move forward and that there will be a place especially for him wherever he is headed.

While out on a walk with his disciples Jesus senses a tension in the air. The conversation between his comrades is no longer pleasant; it is contested. They are arguing over who is greatest in the Kingdom. They are content to be on the walk like Samson, but they really want to be leading the pack like Tala.

The disciples' determination of the greatest was probably based on the quality of production, the yield of their ministry: who had the most effective and eloquent prayers, who had the greatest return of response to their sermons, who visited and cared for the most people in a certain period of time? While their attention to detail and desire to serve was on point, their ambitions that fed their desires to serve missed the mark.

Jesus as God's son would have surely been first in the Kingdom and then those closest to Jesus would follow closely after in position. But, Jesus does not assume the status of a king or a high-ranking politician. Jesus wraps a towel around his waist and, as our heavenly host on the earthy plain, serves each and everyone before he takes his rest. Jesus models that we are not to be first; we are to serve.

Our text says Jesus sat down before he spoke again to the disciples. Transitioning his posture from one over the disciples to one with the disciples he teaches, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” Jesus' teaching seeks to realign the ambitions of the disciples. The question is not “what must I do to become the greatest in the Kingdom?” The question is “how may I serve God and my neighbor today and everyday?”

Prayer: Holy God, our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end, we are so grateful to travel the roads of life with you as we make our way to paradise. Guide us as we walk so we remember that we are not to leave our neighbors in the dust; rather, we are to live and serve others as we follow in the steps of Jesus, our teacher. We seek not to be the greatest. We seek to be with you. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what moments am I tempted and my ambition about Kingdom-living skewed?
  2. How am I walking in the Kingdom? Am I rushing? Am I walking steadily? Am I dragging?
  3. How is God leading me to alter my walking that I may serve others more?