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First Things Last

Matthew 20:20–28; Mark 10:35–45; The Desire of Ages, pp. 435–437, 548–551


The Message

Jesus wants me to put others first.

Memory Verse

“ ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant’ ” (Mark 10:43, NIV).

Think of a time when you wanted to be first. Were you in line, or playing a game? What does the Bible say about trying to be number one? James and John were two of Jesus’ disciples. They had been with Jesus from the beginning, and they wanted to be His favorite helpers. Imagine that they are talking with each other about this.


What a kingdom Jesus is going to have!” exclaimed James. “It will be richer than any kingdom that has ever been!” “It will be great because Jesus is fair,” said John. “I am glad that I have been with Jesus since the very first. We will be an important part of the new kingdom.”

“That’s right,” said James. “You will sit at Jesus’ right hand in the new kingdom, and I will sit at the left.”

“Do you really think so?” questioned John. “Peter thinks he will be number one, not to mention Judas and Simon the Zealot. If we want to be first, we need to talk to Jesus and make sure.”

John thought about Jesus and how humble He was. “But will Jesus be happy listening to us talk about being first?”

James spoke. “We need to ask about first place before some others do. We want to be near Him so we can do things His way. I know, let’s get Mother to ask Him.”

It was not long before their mother arrived and they told her of their plan. She went to Jesus and smiled. “Will you do something for me?”

Jesus looked at her kindly. “What would you like Me to do?” He asked.

“In Your kingdom, let my sons be on Your right side and Your left side,” she said. “They will do the things You want.”

Jesus’ face became sad. He turned to James and John.

“Are you able to face the trouble and the pain that I must face?”

Eagerly, James and John answered, “Oh, yes, Lord, we can face Your troubles.”

Jesus replied. “Yes, you will face My problems and deal with My pain. But I must tell you, that it is not My job to give out positions in God’s kingdom. My Father has a plan for each of you. He is the One who will decide about positions in the kingdom.”

There was a sputter from behind Jesus. The other disciples were angry! Each one wanted to be the most important person in Jesus’ kingdom. Why should young John be ahead of them? They all wanted to be first.

Jesus moved to a quiet place and called all the disciples to Him. “Think about the people who don’t know about God,” He said. “Those people have kings who order people around every day. People are beaten down and forced to obey.

“But My kingdom is not like that. I came to serve others. My people must serve others. To be a leader in My kingdom, you must first learn how to serve. That is how My kingdom works.”

Jesus’ kingdom is still like that. He asks everyone in His kingdom to be unselfish. He wants us to put others first.