In today’s passage Jesus makes three crucial points. He allows non-disciples to do miracles in His Name declaring: “he who is not against us is for us” and promising a reward to those who help others in His Name; He teaches that whoever desires to be first should be the “servant of all”; and He predicts His death and resurrection.
In the first teaching, Jesus states that everyone that does the smallest thing to help others in his Name is helping Him, whether he is an apostle or a disciple. The crucial determinant of whether he is “on our side” is that help is given in His Name. Action taken truly in His Name defines and directs energy and, making it helpful to God. There is no exclusivity to the apostles (and by inference to the church or even Christians) in doing the right thing in the Name of God!
Second, Jesus teaches us that the world is upside down. As the apostles argue among themselves about greatness in the Kingdom, Jesus tells them that the greatest is the servant of all. This is a very radical position. Can we embrace this teaching? Even after two thousand years of Christianity, we live in a world where the world considers the servant of all as one of the lowest possible rank.
Third, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. Without these two events, Christianity would be like any other religion. Accepting the ultimate humiliation in death by crucifixion, Jesus shows absolute acceptance of the Will of the Father and love for his creation. His Resurrection defines the ultimate positive resolution and hope for this upside-down world.