Some people love to be in the lime light, while others do everything possible to escape being visible. Because of being a pastor, I have been invited to many important events and placed at prominent places. Sometimes I was a guest and on other occasions I was required to perform duties. By nature I am a shy person, yet because of the Gospel I have needed to (and continue to) do ministry before others.
The task of the pastor/preacher/teacher is not to draw attention to himself. The idea is to present God’s Word as faithfully as possible … pointing to Jesus and making as much as he can out of Jesus as possible. Jesus is the Light, and a pastor-teacher’s duty is to reflect that light so that Jesus and only Jesus is the center of focus and attention.
Christianity is all about Jesus! There is an interesting teaching in Luke 14. It was the Sabbath Day. Jesus was invited to a meal at an important Pharisee’s house. All eyes were on Him. There was a man present needing healing, so Jesus posed a question to the religious leaders regarding healing on the Sabbath. They did not want to discuss the matter. He tried another question relating to the Sabbath, but they still refused to respond. He healed the man in their sight. Our ever observant Lord notices how the seating was filled, causing Him to teach a parable:
Lk 14:7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Orientals were extremely particular about seating at important feasts and festivals. Different nations had different ways of arranging the “seating”. The Greeks and Romans had the middle sections of the “table” reserved for the most important guests … a coveted “seating” … more like a lying position. Some called this a dinner-bed. In Jesus’ parable, He is rebuking the Pharisees for greedily seeking the most important places … the honour places. The host never hesitated to rearrange the seating according to whom he thought was the most important guest or guests.
This is true where it comes to the seating at wedding. Have you noticed this? You arrive at the wedding reception and find a diagram of the table layout. Then you look for your name, and above the names listed with yours is the table number. The closer you are to the bridal table, the more important you are as a guest (and maybe as a family member).
Does it really matter where you sit? Is it that important that you are placed at the best table? The very fact that you are there to celebrate with the happy couple ought to be your best reward! But then … be it as it may … many want the honour seat and become very upset when they are designated to the less “honourable” seat. Sadly, even people of faith (Christians) can be guilty of this. Misery and depression are not uncommon … even terrible attitudes are witnessed. Take another account of believers wanting the honoured seating:
Mk 10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
What they wanted were the seats next to Jesus’ throne in glory!
Mk 10:38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
Here Jesus is referring to His crucifixion (cup and baptism) … and they say they can ‘drink that cup and endure the same baptism’:
Mk 10:39 “We can,” they answered.
To this our Lord agrees … but adds that he does not have the authority to delegate those seats in glory … The Father has delegated those positions already!
Mk 10:39 … Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
Whether the other ten disciples were in hearing distance or whether they heard about this discussion afterwards … we read:
Mk 10:41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
It seems as the “ten’s” anger was because they did not think of this idea first. But Jesus rebukes them, saying pagans love to rule over others because of high positions … but, “Not so with you” (verse 43).
In verses 43-45 Jesus sets before us a personal example of Himself. He took the place of a servant. He is God and yet He comes to serve … giving His life for our life. He is teaching that every Christian must be a servant, serving all believers, be they from high or low positions in society, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, whatever the tribe, language or people’s group. All Christians are to be servants of each other for Christ’s sake! I love the way the Psalmist put it:
Ps 84:10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
He would rather have a low position as a doorkeeper in God’s House than live in luxury in the house of the wicked! All service within the Kingdom of God is servanthood for the glory of God.
Thank You, Lord for the high position given me as a servant. Amen.