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In his steps

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Matthew 20:27-28
Jesus said to his disciples, “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus did not inspire his listeners to great sacrifice by his words; he inspired them by his actions. But his disciples often seemed to have trouble getting his main point.

Before the penultimate act of Jesus’ life on earth, his crucifixion, and the ultimate act, his resurrection, the disciples’ ambition was to ascend into heaven with Jesus, to sit on his right and left, to bask in his glory, to be glorified themselves. They kept returning to this desire, regardless of Jesus’ emphasis on service.

That changed after the Holy Spirit filled them with fire. It was then that they went their own ways around the world. Perhaps every one of them suffered a martyr’s death. They “descended into hell,” following the downward path of their leader, in order to ascend into heaven. And they knew they were heading in the right direction.

For me, too, it’s one thing to listen to someone invite me to be a servant, and it’s another to see them be one. And that’s most manifest in my own life. My words often sound more righteous than anything I’m doing.

But when I spend real time or real money with real people doing what they need, not what I need, words aren’t very important. Jesus just shows up. Prayer stops being demanding and becomes grateful. I am aware of what I have, not what I lack. I discover the art of making something out of nothing, and stop taking things for granted. Less becomes more every time.

Jesus, of course I don’t know what you “knew” and what you didn’t when you prayed on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” But your actions speak for themselves, regardless of the words. Your trust of your Father inspires me to trust you. And to walk into fire, following you.

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