But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. –Matthew 23:8-12
A dear friend of mine is preaching on this lectionary passage this Sunday, and we used it as our meditation verse for silent prayer this morning over skype. I’ve been reading through the book of Matthew myself, and have been struck by how many of the passages deal with this theme that we must lose our life to save it (chp. 16), that the last shall be first and the first shall be last (chp. 20), and that whatever is done onto the least of these is done unto God (chp. 25).
And this morning I heard God reminding me that that group of servants, students, sinners, the least of these, oh yeah, that’s me, that’s my group. So often I fool myself into thinking that being in a position to serves others means having it all together, being in control, and being somewhat above others. But instead Jesus says, “You are not to be called rabbi, but student.”
It’s not to say we don’t have gifts, that we don’t have much to give, but merely to remind us that if we’re to receive grace, we must first be humbled. We must first admit that we belong to that rascal group of sinners rather than the rabbis and the saints (like everyone else!), and no matter of goodness or service can get us out of debt.
We’re all students on this journey, but if we’re not willing to embrace that position of student or servant, then God can’t lead.
Do I really believe God is guiding me today? If so, how will I humble myself in the sight of the Lord and others, so that I may receive the grace that makes me whole again?