In the Gospel of Mark, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples what following Him really entailed. Surprisingly, even Jesus’ hand-picked twelve apostles struggled to understand this in their early days of following Jesus. Let us embark on a brief journey together to better understand what following Jesus Christ is about.
Jesus predicted three times (in Mark 8:31-33; 9:30-32 and 10:32-34) that He would suffer, be killed and rise again after three days. In all these three passion predictions, Jesus’ closest disciples showed that they did not understand and could not accept that it was necessary for their leader to suffer and be killed. It was completely mind-blowing for them, because they had a misconceived notion that Jesus would stand up for them, fight their enemies and emerge victorious. Having seen Jesus’ power and authority over nature, demons, sicknesses and even death, they certainly did not expect Him to be overcome and killed by those who opposed him.
Jesus’ disciples were not on the same page with Him. While Jesus spoke about serving and giving His life for others, His disciples argued for positions of greatness and power. While Jesus counted the cost of doing His Father’s will, His disciples expected that their following of Jesus would bring them success, significance and recognition. The disciples missed it altogether! Yet, Jesus patiently taught them that the values of God’s Kingdom were opposite to the values of the world. Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first (Mark 10:31). True discipleship is not about serving our self-interest or climbing up the ladder of status and power. Following Jesus is about giving ourselves in humble service to others!
Jesus did not reject one’s desire to be great, but He redefined it according to the values of the Kingdom of God. For a person to be great in the sight of God, one must be a humble servant to others (Mark 9:35; 10:42-44). Jesus’ disciples must follow His example and serve others for their good and for God’s glory. Greatness in God’s eyes is not reserved for the highly gifted, but is attainable by any Christian who is willing to use whatever abilities and resources available to serve others, especially through simple acts of kindness and humble tasks of service to those in society who are insignificant and powerless (a prime example being young children who were considered the least in Jewish society then).
Just as Jesus came to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), we who follow Jesus today must similarly give ourselves in loving, humble service to others, including the last and the least in our society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced many social needs in our nation. There are many opportunities for Christ-followers to serve and be a blessing to others around us. Consider serving and helping those who are poor and marginalised in our society. Low-income families which struggle to meet their living expenses. Disadvantaged young children who are unable to read at the level of their academic age. At-risk children and youths who do not have a healthy family support system and miss out on getting a good basic education. Migrant workers who work long hours for low pay and live in overcrowded conditions.
I dream of a day when many in the general public will say of Christians: “People who follow Jesus Christ are not only concerned about themselves, their families and church activities, but they love others and are committed to do good works in our communities. They help the poor and befriend the marginalised. They have been such a blessing to the people in our nation, even the foreigners in our midst. I think their God is good. I thank their Jesus for their service.”
Written by Pastor Sharon Fong
We encourage you to check out the recommended resources below to learn more about serving the needs of others.
“Greatness Redefined”, by Rev Tony Yeo: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/1564
“Let’s Serve!”, by Rev Tony Yeo: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/364
“Blessing to be a Blessing”, by Rev Tan Kay Kiong: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/483
“Serving the City”, by Rev Dr Timothy Keller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ziAJXT7gok
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE
New Life Steady Readers Programme. Reading Intervention for Young Children
Hope Initiative Alliance. Improving the Quality of Life of Marginalised People Globally
“World Outside Your Window”, cover by Music Collision: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiZM82m02QY
“Waves of Revival”, by Andrew Yeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-EBrSerBNE
“Making A Difference (Won’t You, Lord)”, by City Harvest Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrPMxtUeONE