Encouragement for Today - May 7, 2009

March 7, 2009


Finding Our Place

Rachel Olsen


If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35 (NLT)



Ever noticed how upset people get when someone cuts in line? In elementary school, it was one of the greatest offenses a classmate could commit. Watch a driver’s reaction when someone cuts them off in traffic, and you’ll realize things haven’t changed much. We don’t like people getting ahead of us. We want to be at the front of the line … the head of the class ... in the preeminent position.


Jesus knew this about us. And in his last few days with the disciples before His crucifixion, He talked to them about it.


In Mark chapter 8, Jesus predicts His death for the first time. Then He called His disciples to His side and told them: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (vs. 34-35, NLT).


Soon after, as they walked down the road to Capernaum, Jesus again told his disciples of his coming death, but they still didn’t understand. The disciples began talking among themselves as they followed along behind Jesus. They were arguing about which of them would be at the front of the line in God’s kingdom. Once they arrived, Jesus asked them, “"What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because they had argued about who was the greatest. Then Jesus sat down and called the Twelve to Him and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:33-35, NLT).


After leaving Capernaum, the group met a wealthy young man – a man of status – on the road. He came over and asked Jesus what he could do to gain eternal life. After a short discussion, Jesus told him to sell his possessions and follow Him. However, the man did not wish to give up his elite life of comfort and power … even if it would lead to eternal life. As he left his encounter with Jesus, he went away with a sorrowful heart.


The disciples, while not nearly as wealthy to start with, had done what Jesus told this rich man to do. They had left everything to follow Christ. When Peter mentioned this fact to Jesus, He replied, “And I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then” (Mark 10:29-31).


A while later, on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted His death a third time. Then James and John told Jesus, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” Jesus told them they didn’t understand what they were asking for and, He added, “I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen” (Mark 10:40).


“When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:41-45, NLT).


Jesus was teaching them the essence of true greatness – helping others with a God-centered heart. He was letting them – and us – know that greatness in His kingdom is not determined by status but by service.


So, I suppose the quickest way to the front of God’s line today, is to let someone else in front of you.


Dear Lord, help me be more sensitive to notice and meet the needs of those in my family, in my neighborhood, in my church, and in my place of work today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?


Visit Rachel at her blog today.


God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen


Application Steps: 

Find a way to serve today – put someone else ahead of yourself.



How much do I serve, and how much do I jockey for a better position?


Power Verses:

John 13:3-5, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” (NIV) 



© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105


Originally published Thursday, 07 May 2009.