The theme for this week is humility. God asked Job where he was while God was creating the universe. Jesus counseled his followers that they should not seek prominence or positions of honor but should instead seek to be the servants of all. And finally, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews provides an insight into the relationship between Jesus and God. In every instance, humility is key in relation to God.
The story of Job is clear. After [rightly] pleading his case before the Divine Judge, Job is in turn questioned by God. God asked Job who darkens counsel by words without knowledge and then proceeded to ask where Job was at the creation of the world. Job has argued his case correctly, and said what is true about God (Job 42:8). But he simply does not know what happens in the heavenly council or how God created the universe. Even when he is correct, Job speaks without full knowledge. It is the enormity of God’s creative power than leads to a proper amount of humility before God.
The passage from Gospel of Mark begins with James and John requesting to sit at Jesus’ right and left when Jesus comes into his glory. Forgetting, for a moment, that it is God who sits at Jesus’ left [as Jesus sits at God’s right (Acts 7:55, Romans 8:34, Eph 1:20, Col 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 12:2…)], this request is still totally improper because people of the Jesus community are not to seek positions of power and authority, but opportunities to serve (Mark 10:43-44). Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven, which leads to greatness in eternal life, is in giving up power, wealth, authority and becoming a humble servant.
We should remember this in our dealings with potential leaders inside and outside of the church. Jesus’ own example is one who came to serve, not to be served. Those who seek power for ambition’s sake, rather than as an opportunity to serve people are not working for the Kingdom of Heaven, but for themselves. Such behavior, according to the Biblical text, is exactly and explicitly anti-Christ, because Jesus demonstrates and demands the opposite.
It is not just with his disciples that Jesus demonstrated radical humility, but also with God. Jesus did not glorify himself in appointing himself to his Melchizedek-ian high priesthood, but he was designated by God (Hebrews 5:5, 10). Jesus reverently submitted to God, learned obedience through his suffering and was made perfect (Hebrews 5:7-9). If Jesus, as God’s Son, modeled such humble obedience to God, we who are God’s creation should follow him. Indeed, Jesus provides salvation to all those who humbly obey him in his submission to God (Hebrews 5:9).
The way of Jesus is humble service to our neighbors and humble submission to God. Of course we still ask for what we want (Hebrews 5:7). But we also need to know that we are not God. If we are clear-eyed in our obedience to our master, Jesus, we will celebrate the shunning of power, wealth and authority, and rejoice at opportunities to serve. In so doing, we live Christlike lives.