A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
A few times every spring my siblings and I would gather outside with our supplies and set up to play baseball. I’m not sure how much baseball we ever ended up playing because what we really did was argue for forty minutes about the rules. Baseball is complicated enough to follow even with an expert around to clarify the minutiae, but it’s impossible with a bunch of kids of different ages, none of whom fully understand the game. Besides, usually someone would end up crying because he got hit by a ball or became so frustrated that he would stalk off to play something else.
This week we are responding to God’s direct call for us to GO! It’s so easy to get caught up in minutiae that we forget that we have a clear purpose: to know God and to make Him known. God wants us to serve others and care less about our own status or authority. Sometimes it’s so important for us to be right or clever that we forget that the whole point of playing baseball is to have fun playing a game together. Of course, some knowledge of baseball helps, as does an understanding of God’s word, but hypercritical arguments over the tiniest details distract us from our true purpose. In this passage, the disciples are arguing over who is the greatest. Instead of clarifying who has more authority, Jesus points out that all of them should seek to serve. Probably most of the divisive political and religious issues that we would bring to Jesus would receive a similar response. If we put our energy into serving others and living to God’s purpose, then all other arguments seem secondary.