Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

[Jesus and his disciples] came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” – Mark 9:33-35

During his earthly ministry Jesus used a number of unique pictures to describe himself. These were usually preceded by the words, “I am.” With them Jesus not only united himself with his Father (John 14:10-11), he also revealed what he came to do. Consider just a few of those pictures. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12). “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). Each conveys a vivid picture of Jesus, and an important truth regarding his precious work. Still, there was one statement he never made. The words “I am the greatest” were never uttered by him. Everything Jesus did revealed he was the “servant of all” (Mark 10:45).

It is Jesus’ title of servant of all which offers me great comfort and peace. As true God and true Man Jesus was the perfect Savior I, and all people, needed. He served me by earning the perfect obedience I could never attain. He served me by securing the forgiveness I never deserve. He served me by offering eternal life even though I was dead in my trespasses and sin. He further served me by sending his Holy Spirit to lead me to trust him and his precious work.

It is also Jesus’ title of servant of all which moves me to serve and praise him in love. In love for the Twelve Jesus gave them an alternate way to live their lives. The disciples were not immune from the influence of the world. They craved the title of greatest. They longed to have others serve them. They believed they deserved more because of the status they held as Jesus’ disciples. Jesus showed them this was not his way. Instead of desiring to be great, Jesus told them to imitate him as the servant of all. Jesus tells me the same thing.

While Jesus’ words war with my flesh and with the perspective of this world, I know this is one way I can thank, praise and love him. Simply put, I trust the undeserved love he showed me, and I love others. I trust the selfless service he offered me, and I serve others. I trust the humility by which he reached out to me, and I reach out to others.

It is said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” While my desire is to imitate Jesus, it is not simply to flatter him. It is to live for him who first served me and rescued me.

Prayer: O precious Savior, you came as my faithful servant. Help me live a life of love and faithful service devoted to you, and directed to all people. Amen.


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