When the ten heard this, they were upset with James and John. But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that those who are respected as rulers of the materialists lord it over them – and their great ones exercise authority over them. But this is not the case for you – rather, whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. And whoever of you will be great will be the servant of all. Because even the Servant of Humanity came not to be served, but to serve – and give himself to liberate many.” (Mark 10:41-45)Remember that these ten disciples had just heard two of his disciples ask Jesus:
“Allow us to sit – one on your right and the other on your left – in your glory.” (John 10:37)After which Jesus answered, as explained with that verse.
Now Jesus is dealing with some consternation from the others that two of the disciples felt they had deserved a special seat in heaven.
Materialists, not Gentiles or Pagans
The Greek word, ἔθνος (ethnos) is typically translated to either "gentiles" or "pagans" among the various sectarian Bible translations. Both of these translations are, however, limited.
The word "gentiles" is often taken to mean a race of people - a people who were not ethnically Jews, or who had not joined the temple sects. This is shortsighted and would mean that Jesus was either a racist or a sectarian. He was neither, as we learned from his other teachings, including his exchange with a Samaritan woman. Jesus recognized the soul within and taught love of the one true God, not love of a Jewish God or a Christian God.
Furthermore, the word "pagan" often connotates an expression for those who worship idols, or who do not worship the "Jewish God." Both of these are also shortsighted. Jesus wasn't referring specifically to those who worshipped idols. And he certainly wasn't mocking those who followed other religious philosophies.
Rather, Jesus was speaking of those who are attached to the goodies of the material world. Those who seek fame and fortune within the material world. In other words, those who are ultimately self-centered. This is better captured with the term, "materialists."
This meaning is captured by Thayer's lexicon, explaining the Greek word relates not just to those who are "a multitude" who are "associated and living together," but to those who, "are not worshiping the true God."
Those who are associated and living together and do not worship God are, in this context, materialists. Materialists seek power and authority over each other because they do not accept the power and authority of the Supreme Being.
The consciousness of materialism
Jesus responds by explaining to his students the difference between the consciousness of materialistic people versus the consciousness of those in the spiritual world - including Jesus.
Jesus explains that materialists seek the respect and authority over others. And those who gain that authority and respect exercise their authority over those they command.
In other words, materialistic people seek power and authority, and then exert that power and authority over others by dominating them in one way or another.
Prime examples of this are authoritarian dictators who rule their country with an iron fist. They jail those who speak out against them and they harm or murder those who try to unseat their power.
These are the obvious examples, but there are also more subtle forms of this materialistic domination over others. Sometimes a husband or man will exert their power over a woman. Sometimes a boss or supervisor will exert their power over their employees. There are so many examples of more subtle cases of those who utilize their power to abuse or simply command others.
We have even seen this situation among some priests, who have abused followers in one respect or another.
This contrasts with spiritual consciousness
Jesus then contrasts this focus of materialistic people towards power and authority with the consciousness of those who are focused upon loving and serving the Supreme Being - and thus loving and serving others.
Such a person, according to Jesus, sees themselves as a servant. And they see greatness as being the servant rather than ruling over others.
Such a consciousness may also be called humility, but this term barely scratches the surface. In the material world, one thinks of someone as humble when they act humble.
But true spiritual humility is not the same as acting humble. A person who is spiritually humble sees themselves as a servant of the Supreme Being, and a servant to everyone.
But this sometimes doesn't necessarily translate to acting humble. For example, if a person is truly providing service, then they may have to take a commanding posture in order to complete the service.
Consider for example, a relative who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Would service to them mean going to get them some more drugs or alcohol when they ask for it? Certainly not. The true service in this case would be to refuse to do that and instead try to help the person kick the addiction - which may require taking some control over the situation.
Such a response is sometimes called, "tough love." It is "tough" because it does not cower to their whims - but instead looks to what would truly benefit them.
And it is "love" because it is truly caring about that person.
Jesus saw himself as the servant of others
This is Jesus' position. He sometimes healed others and sometimes taught others about God. But he also sometimes admonished or criticized those who needed it.
This is because Jesus was providing true service to them. He was teaching them about how to change their lives and become spiritually conscious.
Such a service to others is the most profound service. It has nothing to do with preventing someone's body from dying or protecting people from the onslaughts of the material world. It means providing a true long-term solution.
That solution is love for the Supreme Being. This means finding that Person our hearts are yearning for. This means reclaiming our lost relationship with the Supreme Being - our true Soul Mate and Best Friend who is always there for us, lovingly waiting patiently for us to turn to Him.
Such a solution transcends the material world. It transcends the material world because it means we - our spiritual self - can return to the spiritual realm after the death of this physical body.
This is how Jesus liberated "many"
Sectarian institutions like to teach that Jesus' main purpose on earth was to come and "die for our sins." They claim that Jesus' dying on the cross somehow automatically cleanses our sins, and all we have to do is accept that and we are saved.
They also teach that God had to send "His only son" to die for our sins.
Such a notion not only doesn't make sense. It is also deceiving and virtually ignores that which does save us.
First, Jesus did not die on the cross. His physical body died, yes. But as he proved with his reappearance "in different forms" (Mark 16:12 and others), Jesus' spiritual self did live on. He didn't die.
So how could he have died for our sins if he didn't die?
Secondly, the Supreme Being does not need to sacrifice anyone in order to cleanse our sins. He can purify us whenever He wants - simply with a thought.
This is God we are talking about. God does not need to follow any rules or sacrificial rituals in order to provide cleansing to us. God controls everything. He is in full control.
Thirdly, we can see just by looking around us that simply accepting the Jesus "died for my sins" doesn't actually cleanse sins. It doesn't work. How can we tell?
We can see that so many criminals have committed crimes and gone into church - some even to confess - and then supposedly "accepted that Jesus died for their sins." Yet many were later caught for their crimes and put in jail or otherwise punished.
And many of them continued to commit crimes like that, despite having "accepted that Jesus died for their sins."
This means that not only were their sins not forgiven, but they were not cleansed of that propensity to sin. They continued to commit crimes, and many have been punished at some point for those crimes.
If their sins were forgiven, then why did they then have to suffer the consequences of those sins?
Because this ritual does not automatically cleanse people of sins, as taught by many sectarian preachers and priests.
The perfect case in point is those priests who took part in those supposed cleansing rituals daily, and yet still ended up abusing young children and doing other things to hurt others.
How could they have done this if their rituals were cleansing? And how come some of them have been jailed or otherwise punished for their actions if their rituals forgave their sins?
Because those rituals do not do what these institutions and their teachers promised they would do. This is because they are frauds. They are fakers. They are 'wolves in sheep's clothing.'
Jesus' teachings and example can liberate us
If Jesus' "dying" on the cross was the thing that liberates us, then why did he bother teaching? Why did he bother collecting disciples and then sending those disciples out to teach others?
Because it is his teachings that can liberate us. Should we hear and accept and follow those teachings, we can gradually become purified. We can gradually develop the consciousness of the spiritual realm - the consciousness of loving God and serving God and others.
Jesus committed his whole life to teaching others. He walked barefoot from village to village to teach others. He was so committed to these teachings that he would not compromise them, even when threatened with persecution. That kind of example - that kind of commitment to his teachings - is how he gave himself to liberate us - with his teachings.
This is reflected in Jesus' most important teaching:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction. And the second is like it – ‘You shall love others as yourself.’ There is no other instruction greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)