Monday, March 22th – Coaching for Last Place*
Mark 9:30-41 (NIV)
30They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
36He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37″Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
38″Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
39″Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
The task of a coach for any sport or organization is to teach their charges how to win. Our competitive nature usually focuses us toward being first because after all that is the most sought after spot. The one who is first, the best and brightest in our minds, is usually considered the greatest. Greatness from a natural perspective is the place where honor, power and glory lift us high above all others. It is a place where one can easily get off track by the headiness that kind of attention usually brings. After all, who wouldn’t want to be the greatest?
Jesus leads his disciples on an out-of-the-way road in an effort to go unnoticed while reminding them of his ultimate destiny. As they travel, the disciples begin to argue about who among them was the greatest. They were probably debating the notion that surely of the 12 there had to be one that is better than all the rest otherwise what would be the point? Sensing that there has been such a discussion, Jesus calls them together to coach them on how to redirect their focus. It is a simple yet startling game plan: If you want to be first, you have to be last because greatness is achieved by serving.
In serving we learn the importance of compassion, sacrifice and love that Christ modeled in his life work on Earth. As we serve, we are trained to exhibit the principals of integrity, faithfulness and a high standard of humility that allow the Kingdom Building work of Christ to continue in this present age. Our coach has made it possible for us to lose the parts of our selves that need to fall away–our pride and desire to wield power over others so we are able to win souls by humbling ourselves in childlike obedience. Christ ran the play for us on the Cross so we would know how it is done. How did he do it? By losing his life so we would win salvation through him.
Prayer: Empower me to serve you joyfully and humbly, Lord. Allow me to cast down the desire to be the first so that I can draw others to You. You are a Great God and greatly to be praised! Amen
Rev. Carmen Avery Walker, M.Div.
Pastor, Mt. Zion AME Church
**During Lent and Holy Week, devotional writings will be posted by Facebook and Twitter friends who are praying and fasting together in a Daniel Fast. Read more about this “Journey to the Heart of God by clicking here.