The First Must Be Last

“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” … Mark 9:35 (ESV)


The theme of servanthood echoes throughout Mark’s Gospel and reaches its greatest expression in chapter 10 when Jesus says; “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” … Mark 10:43–44.


How sad that all we typically see in our world today is people pushing their way up the corporate ladder, eager to get to the top, where prosperity and power beckon, heedless of those whom they hurt or ruin on the way up. Or in the political arena, where we see people jockeying for position, verbally abusing each other, glad for someone else’s failure, weakness, or vulnerability, which they can turn to their own advantage. But even worse, when we see this selfish attitude in the professing church.[1]


Jesus stated that human values are not necessarily kingdom values. In human institutions, we may fight for status. We may be concerned about being in the right crowd or being seen by powerful people. The old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” has no place in the kingdom of God in the way the world means it. Jesus did not focus on the arguing of his disciples about who was the greatest. Instead, Jesus spoke frankly, telling them if they wanted to be first, they must be last.[2]




[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring the Gospel of Mark: An Expository Commentary (Mk 9:35). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

[2] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, p. 151). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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