"Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
I forget about this sometimes. I like to be right. I like to win. I like to be recognized and acknowledged for my greatness. I like people to think well of me. And i don't think i'm alone in that.
But none of that is why we are here. None of that is the point. There's a great moment in one episode of the West Wing (War Crimes, S3E6), where the President and First Lady are returning from church and vigorously debating a passage of scripture. He tells her that the point of the passage is that we are all to be subject to one another, that in the Kingdom of God, no one is above anyone else. No one matters more than anyone else. No one outranks anyone else, no one deserves more special treatment than anyone else, no one is more valued than anyone else. We are all equally humble before God.
Then they (Jesus and the disciples) came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. And they said to Him, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?" But Jesus answered and said to them, "I will also ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven," He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'" -- they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. So they answered and said to Jesus, "We do not know." And Jesus answered and said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
What's interesting about this is that Jesus asked the priests and so forth what they thought about John, and true to form, they instead debated the most politically advantageous response. They didn't want a riot, and they didn't want to be asked hard questions/made to look silly, so they simply claimed ignorance. Our politicians like to play this game sometimes, and it's pretty obnoxious. I think we should respond like Jesus does: we won't respond until you do. We will withhold our votes until you give us straight answers about what you actually think and believe and value.
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of them all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
What i neglected to mention in Matthew's account of this conversation is that both of these commandments are taken from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The one in Deuteronomy is prefaced by God Himself saying, "This is the greatest commandment". The Leviticus one comes in the middle of a long list of ways that you can show love to your neighbor. So this conversation is kind of like when you're talking to a friend who is playing with their new smartphone, and they ask you for something like the definition of a word, or the weather forecast, and you give them some sarcastic response about how they should use the Magic Google Machine on their phone to look it up. People were asking Jesus for the greatest commandment, and He said, "Well, I'm no expert, but when God was giving us laws and telling us which ones were the most important, He kind of highlighted these a little. You know, by saying that they were the most important." I love snarky Jesus.