How to Be Exalted
Exaltation Through Service
We're living in a world where people claw their way to the top. They try to be the richest, the brightest, and the most admired, and seek power at any cost. Society values those who have some talent that we all admire, or those who are beautiful physically. But lose any of these abilities or physical attributes and see how quickly the world turns you off. For instance, if you are a famous football player, and suddenly develop some kind of back problem, and cannot perform on the field any longer, people might feel sorry for you for a little while, but your name will be quickly forgotten, except by those who like to remember sports trivia.
Come to think of it, how many sports figures, politicians, musicians, actors or actresses do we remember from 50 years ago? And the farther back one goes in time, the less people will remember those who, at one time, were both rich and famous.
I. True Greatness Cannot be Found the World's Way
Our Lord Jesus Christ, has given us the true formula for lasting greatness. Greatness isn't found in the way the world seeks for it, through self-exaltation. Quite the opposite. It is through self abasement.
In Matthew 20:21-28 we have a mother who only wants the best for her sons, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Her request was that when Jesus came into His kingdom that her two boys would have the places of honor by Christ. She wanted the one on the left hand, and the other on the right. Jesus immediately told her as well as her two sons that they didn't know what they were asking. He asked them:
"Are your able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
He was asking James and John if they were able to die for the cause of Christ, for that is what the Lord was shortly going to do. This implies that the greatest positions in the coming Kingdom go to those who suffer the most for Christ here on earth. James and John, rather arrogantly tell Jesus that they can. The Lord says that indeed they will one day do this. And history records that James was beheaded and John was tortured and exiled to the island of Patmos.
But then He goes on and tells them that despite all of this, the only one who had the right to give those positions of honor, was the Father (23). Following this, the other 10 disciples got angry that James, John and their mother would even ask such a question. It was probably a jealous displeasure because all of them would have asked for this exalted and favored place by Christ, given the opportunity.
II. True Greatness is Found Through Being a Servant of All
Jesus went in the exact opposite direction from the world in defining greatness in His Kingdom, which incidently is the only Kingdom that will last. He used this incident with James and John to tell His disciples what constituted true greatness. He said:
"You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whosoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Our Lord didn't just preach servanthood, Like a true leader, He modeled it. When He went to the Cross of Calvary in order to die for our sins, He demonstrated self-less love. He Himeself knew no sin, but became sin for us, so that we might receive His righteousness. He humbled Himself to the point of becoming one of us, and dying for the creatures that He created. His humility and servanthood went far beyond any that we can ever think to do.
As usual, the world doesn't have a clue. They see Jesus' way to greatness as upside down. And to the people of this world it is. But it is they who are standing on their head and seeing things completely different than they should be. God has left Christians on this earth to demonstrate to the world what it's like to live under the sovereign rule of the Lord of the universe and to win them for Him. It is Christ's followers who must demonstrate true servant leadership, by learning to be the servants of all. And in the process of all of that, we the servants, become truly great . And we will one day be rewarded by Him who is the greatest servant leader of all- Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a wonderful and mighty God we serve!