DO YOU know anyone who always wants to be first?— He may push someone away so that he can be first in line. Have you seen that happen?— The Great Teacher saw even grown-ups try to get the first, or most important, places. And he did not like it. Let’s see what happened.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was invited to a big meal at the home of a Pharisee, who was an important religious leader. After Jesus arrived, he began to watch other guests come in and choose the best places. So he told a story to those who had been invited. Would you like to hear it?—
Jesus said: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not pick the best, or most important, place.’ Do you know why Jesus said that?— He explained that someone more important may have been invited. So, as you can see in the picture, the one giving the feast comes and says: ‘Let this man have the place, and you go over there.’ How would the guest feel then?— He would feel shame because all the other guests would watch him move to the less important place.
Jesus was showing that it is not right to want the highest place. So he said: ‘When you are invited to a wedding feast, go and sit in the lowest place. Then the one who has invited you may come and say, “Friend, go on up higher.” You will then have honor in front of all the other guests as you move to the better place.’
Did you get the point of Jesus’ story?— Let’s give an example to see if you did. Imagine that you are getting on a crowded bus. Should you hurry to get a seat and let an older person stand?— Would Jesus like it if you did that?—
Someone may say that it does not make any difference to Jesus what we do. But do you believe that?— When Jesus was at that big meal at the home of the Pharisee, he watched the people as they chose their seats. Don’t you think that he is just as interested in what we do today?— Now that Jesus is in heaven, he certainly is in a good position to watch us.
When someone tries to be first, it can cause trouble. Often there is an argument, and people get angry. Sometimes this happens when children go for a bus ride together. As soon as the bus doors are opened, the children rush to be first. They want the best seats, the ones near the windows. What may happen then?— Yes, they may get mad at one another.
Wanting to be first can cause a lot of trouble. It even caused trouble among Jesus’ apostles. As we learned in Chapter 6 of this book, they argued among themselves about who was the greatest. What did Jesus do then?— Yes, he corrected them. But later they had another argument. Let’s see how it started.
The apostles, along with others, are traveling with Jesus for the last time to the city of Jerusalem. Jesus has been talking to them about his Kingdom, so James and John have been thinking about ruling as kings with him. They have even spoken with their mother, Salome, about it. (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40) So when they are on their way to Jerusalem, Salome comes to Jesus, bows before him, and asks a favor.
“What do you want?” Jesus asks. She answers that she would like Jesus to let her sons sit right next to him in his Kingdom, one at his right hand and the other at his left. Well, when the ten other apostles learn what James and John have had their mother ask for, how do you think they feel?—
Yes, they are very angry at James and John. So Jesus gives all his apostles some good advice. Jesus tells them that the rulers of the nations love to be big and important. They want to have a high position where everyone obeys them. But Jesus tells his followers that they should not be that way. Rather, Jesus says: “Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” Think of that!
Do you know what a slave does?— He serves other people, not expecting others to serve him. He takes the lowest place, not the first place. He acts as the least important one, not the most important. And remember, Jesus said that the one who wants to be first should act like a slave toward others.
Now, what do you think that means for us?— Would a slave argue with his master over who is going to get the best seat? Or would he argue about who is going to eat first? What do you think?— Jesus explained that a slave always puts his master before himself.
So rather than trying to be first, what should we do?— Yes, we should be like a slave to others. And that means putting others ahead of ourselves. It means considering that others are more important than we are. Can you think of ways that you can put others first?— Why not go back to pages 40 and 41 and look again at some of the ways that you can put others first by serving them.
You will remember that the Great Teacher put others ahead of himself by serving them. The last evening he spent with his apostles, he even got down and washed their feet. If we also put others first by serving them, we will be pleasing both the Great Teacher and his Father, Jehovah God.
Let’s read some more Bible texts that encourage us to put others ahead of ourselves: Luke 9:48; Romans 12:3; and Philippians 2:3, 4.