Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And he sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35
Jesus repeated this message several times throughout the Gospels, and for good reason. It is in our nature to want to be first, to be the best, but Christ taught a different message to those who followed Him. Christ taught us to humble ourselves as little children. But the lesson that Christ is teaching is not that you should purposely lose, it is quite the opposite.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
To be meek does not mean to be a coward or pushover, it is to be patient and gentle. One of the mightiest and most important men of God, the apostle Paul called himself, “less than the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8). Paul humbled himself before the Lord, he found that the more he relied on God instead of himself the closer his relationship to Christ became. When he prayed for reprieve from a thorn in his flesh, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9).
People often say that God will not give you more than you can handle, but sorry to tell you that He will, and He does. God wants us to rely on Him, that is why Jesus told us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).
Gently and lowly, being meek is not weakness, it is strength that only God can provide. Jesus was meek and suffered and died on the cross for us, He overcame the world, for us, that is not weakness. Can we humble ourselves like the thief next to Jesus on the cross, a sinner condemned to death by Rome who recognized that he was receiving the reward for his deeds and said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) Can we humble ourselves like Nicodemus the teacher of Israel who helped prepare Jesus body for burial, the same day his own people had called for Jesus to be crucified. Can we humble ourselves like Saul of Tarsus, who hunted and persecuted Christians.
Submission, meekness, and absolute reliance on the grace of God is true victory in the Kingdom of Heaven. In his last epistle Paul wrote this, not the words of someone who is last, but the words of someone who found victory in Jesus Christ.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:6-8