From Last to First – Unpacking Biblical Greatness

Published on Apr 30, 2024
Category: Behold!

Read: Mark 9:30-50

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Mark 9:35

Jesus, truly the greatest in the kingdom of God, made Himself last of all, the Servant King, for our sake.

The Bible says that Jesus sat down as He called the disciples to Him. “When a Rabbi was teaching as a Rabbi, as a master teaches his scholars and disciples when he was making a pronouncement, he sat to teach. Jesus deliberately took up the position of a Rabbi teaching his pupils before he spoke.” (Barclay). Jesus the Rabbi had something of great importance to teach His disciples.

Jesus taught this timeless truth that for a follower of Christ, the desire for praise and recognition should be foreign. He calls us to embrace being last as a willing choice, allowing others to be preferred before us. Jesus himself is the ultimate example of humility and service (Philippians 2:5-11). He came into the world not as a conquering king, but as a humble servant. He lived a life of service, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the broken-hearted. He washed his disciples’ feet, an act of service that was reserved for the lowliest of servants. And he ultimately gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

The world’s idea of power says that, the greater a person, the more the people to serve them. But Christ declared that true greatness is seen not by how many serve you, but by how many you serve. “It was not that Jesus abolished ambition. Rather he recreated and sublimated ambition. For the ambition to rule, he substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us, he substituted the ambition to do things for others.” (Barclay).

May we increasingly seek to be like our Master, choosing to be the last and servant of all. Not an easy way to live by human standards, but we can do all things through Christ who enables us (Philippians 4:13). So let us ask Jesus our Servant King to enable us to be His true followers, choosing to serve rather than be served.

Are you truly able to put others before yourself, or are you just going through the motions? How can you better understand and live out the concept of true greatness being measured by how many you serve, rather than how many serve you? In what ways are you seeking recognition and praise for yourself instead of serving others?


Lord, help me live by your ambition to serve and to do for others, rather than be served, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Scripture Writing: Philippians 4:13

Song: The Servant King

Bible Verses: Jesus, Our Servant King

For more daily devotions like this – At the Potter’s Wheel (Kindle)


Preethi Alice Jacob

Preethi Jacob is the author of the yearlong devotional At the Potter’s Wheel, Day by Day. Her journey includes teaching a Bible Study Fellowship class, teaching and leading the Sunday School ministry in her church, leading Bible studies, besides counselling young women. She serves on the Global Mission Team of the United Bible Societies and lives in Bangalore, India with her husband and two young adult children.

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