Mark 10:43b-45 “. . . but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you 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.”
It was just about time to board the plane for home. I glanced at my ticket and weaved my way through the crowds to stand in Line 5. It had been an interesting weekend for me and I am sure for many of the other travelers.
I had prepared to return home on Monday, but the fickle weather did not cooperate. That evening a thick ice had settled on the roads and my flight was cancelled. I rescheduled my flight for Tuesday afternoon and now I stood waiting in the last line – Line 5 – to board the plane along with other displaced passengers.
As I waited for the final call I watched and listened to the people around me. A well-dressed man in a stylish business suit stood directly in front of me talking out loud to no one nearby, obviously engaged in a telephone call on his wireless earpiece. Periodically he adjusted the appliance in his ear and continued his monologue about sales quotas and office policies. He was obviously someone of status and authority.
Finally the call came for the important people of Line 1 to begin their trek down the long corridor leading to the aircraft. The one-sided conversation in front of me stopped abruptly and I heard a panicked male voice exclaim, “Whoa, this is Line 5. I am supposed to be in Line 1.” Quickly the frustrated businessman grabbed his wheeled suitcase, ducked under the dividers, and raced to find his place with his peers already headed down the ramp.
I couldn’t help but chuckle as I said to myself, “What perfect sense! That man looked way too important to be in Line 5.”
Finally the waiting was over and my group in Line 5 was called to board. I grabbed my duffle bag, walking along the ramp and down the aisle. I passed Mr. Important, already settled in one of the front seats, laptop open, continuing with business as usual. I smiled at him. He didn’t notice the gesture, so I continued my slow shuffle down the aisle searching for my seat. I finally found it at the very back of the plane. If I had gone much farther my seat would have been in the toilet closet.
I stowed my carry-on and plopped down to rest and mull over my circumstances. I had not planned on the cancelled flight and I had not chosen my back seat on this overloaded airplane. I was just glad to be on my way home. I remembered what Jesus said in the gospels: whoever wants to be great must be a servant and those who want to be first must be a slave to all.
Jesus, the Son of God, demonstrated this principle as even He did not come to be served but to serve. It is only right for the King of Heaven to have the highest place and to have all sorts of servants doing His bidding. Yet He Himself came to earth for the purpose of serving us and giving His life as a ransom for our sins.
I looked around and wondered whom I might serve that day as a result of being relegated to Line 5. Sure enough I ended up having some very nice conversations with the people seated around me. The man to my right was reading a new Bible that a friend had given him and seemed desirous to know God better. The couple on my left were believers and we had an encouraging conversation about different types of Bible study.
As I settled back into my seat it struck me that a lot of God’s people were in Line 5 that day. And why should I have been surprised? The way to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven is to take the back seat and be a servant of all. If Jesus had a ticket I think He would have been in Line 5. Come to think of it, that’s exactly where He was – right there with us the whole time.