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Jesus says greatness comes through love and service to the most vulnerable, represented by a little child.

S2:E33 EPISODE SUMMARY

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

I can’t help but feel sorry for the disciples in this passage.

By turns, they’re bewildered and then mortified. First, Jesus tells them that he’ll be killed and rise again three days later. What could he mean? The Messiah, the one who will lead them out of Roman rule and into an era of harmony and peace, will be killed? How can anything good come from that? They don’t know, but they’re embarrassed to ask. I would be, too.

Then Jesus calls them out for bickering about who among them is the greatest. It must have dawned on them how petty they must have seemed to a man they admire, follow, and are probably more than a little intimidated by. Maybe they’re wondering what important or heroic deeds they will have to do, or which great leaders they would have to attract to their movement, in order to prove their worth. But Jesus turns the tables again.

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all. … Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me…”

Servant of all? Welcoming children? This may not be the power and prestige the disciples associated with leadership. Children are powerless and vulnerable, and leadership is associated with others serving you, right?

Today, when leadership is supposed to be about public service, many seem to be out for themselves. Or, perhaps, some seek to acquire the wealth and power and connections for a greater purpose, but compromise in small or gigantic ways in order to ascend to or stay in power… and service to the most vulnerable largely falls by the wayside.

Jesus says greatness comes through love and service to the most vulnerable, represented by a little child. Instead of seeking your own glory, or even seeking glory for the sake of others, let go of needing glory or power or status, and go love and serve others. Love is multiplied and extended through acts of loving, and this is how a world broken by desire for wealth and power is healed.

Jesus’s glory will come not through self-aggrandizement, but through complete self-giving, loving a humanity that would take everything from him, including his life. He will become servant and last and least and die. But in giving himself away through Love, he will show that Love defies death. When we seek to defend ourselves by setting ourselves up against others, we get trapped in cycles of death, but when we lovingly serve others, we open ourselves to life. When we give ourselves away for love’s sake, the best of who we are is magnified forever in Love.

The Olive
Branch

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