In Isaiah 55:8&9 we read these words: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We see the truth of these words most clearly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For example, He redefined what true greatness looks like in a person who provides leadership.
In Mark 10:37, James and John request to be seated at Jesus’ right and left hands in His kingdom. They want positions of power and influence when Jesus comes in His glory. These two disciples are thinking in the same way that the world thinks. But remember that God’s ways and thoughts are not like man’s ways and thoughts. They are much higher, but higher in a surprising way.
Jesus responds to the brothers’ request this way: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44). Then Jesus appeals to His own example in Mark 10:45, where He says: “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.” Greatness in God’s kingdom is measured in an entirely different way than in the world.
Three times in Mark 8-10, Jesus predicts His arrest and crucifixion. Each time He declares that He will rise to life after His death (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:33,34). The way He will defeat death is through His death. Again, God’s ways are different than man’s ways. He doesn’t value or think like carnal men and women.
Three times in Mark 9 and 10, Jesus either declares that “Those who are first will be last” or “He who wants to be first needs to be last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35, 10:31 10:44). Jesus proclaims these words in response to the disciples jockeying for positions of influence and in response to the disciples’ attitudes to children who are perceived by them as unimportant and without influence (Mark 10:13-16). The values of the kingdom of God turn the values of the world upside down.
These examples from the life of Jesus’ disciples near the end of Christ’s earthly life press home to us the need to continually surrender our thoughts and mind to God’s Spirit and Word. These disciples had been with Jesus for the 3 years of His earthly ministry. They were steeped in the Jewish Scriptures and several of them probably knew Jesus even before His 3-year ministry began. Yet, they reverted so easily to the mindset of men who didn’t know God and who were unaware of their own prideful hearts. How easily we fall into this same kind of pattern, without realizing it. Oh LORD, have mercy on us. Let us close with the words of Romans 12:1&2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor John