They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. Mark 9:30-35

Even after finding out Jesus’ way is the way down – the way of voluntarily suffering in surrender to God’s will, the disciples still think a kingdom is coming where they will be placed in close ranks with Jesus himself. And they continue to speculate with one another about who will be greatest in the kingdom – who will sit at the right and the left of Jesus when he reigns in glory.

When Jesus asks them what they’ve been talking about, they feel somewhat ashamed. Deep down in their spirits they intuitively know Jesus would not approve of this conversation. And sure enough, Jesus uses this as a teachable moment. He reminds his disciples the first in earthly eyes will not be first in his kingdom. But the least of these will have the same unlimited access to his kingdom and therefore be considered great among all the people of God.

God’s kingdom is not one of power-filled hierarchy but one of self-forgetful love for all people. Jesus gave us the best picture of his self-sacrificing character as he gave up his divine position to incarnate among us to endure what we experience and live through it to rescue victory for us.

Still, it’s hard to remove our well worn thought patterns and social structures to imagine a kingdom where all people – all races, all ages, all social ranks, all personalities – have a place. Each person will be seen, known, and loved from a place of self-giving honor. Jesus challenges us to dream beyond our earthly frameworks to realize following him is humbling ourselves for others. Today, shake yourself out of your current frameworks and put someone else first (look for someone who is different than you or from earthly frameworks, “below” you). Reminding yourself this is the way of Jesus’ Kingdom

By Yvonne Biel