43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We tend to think of life like a hierarchy. We want to climb higher and have more people “under us”. Often an executive’s worth (and his salary) is determined by how many people are under his authority, or command. But, as he often did, Jesus turned conventional wisdom upside down. Remember in the sermon on the Mount how many times Jesus said “You have heard…”, then he turned around and said “but I say” and he proceeded to turn their conventional wisdom upside down.
At Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his death, he demonstrated this same principle. His disciples had argued about who would be greatest. They had sought to get choice seats on Jesus’ right and left hand. But Jesus got up from the meal and began to do the lowliest job of the lowest slave… he started washing their feet.
In effect, Jesus is suggesting that the key to greatness is not hierarchy, but a “lowerarchy.” The key to greatness is not how many people you are higher than, but the number of people you are lower than. It’s not the number of people who serve you, it is the number of people you serve. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate degree of this by giving himself to ransom us all.