“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

This statement by Jesus follows his discussion with the mother of Zebedee's sons asked Jesus to take her sons into heaven, to which Jesus responded that they will follow him ("drink from my cup") but their entrance into heaven is up to God ("have been prepared by my Father"). Then ten of Jesus' other disciples responded:
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.... (Matt. 20:24-25)
So what does Jesus' response above mean? Let's break it down:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them."

The word "Gentiles" is being translated from the Greek word ἔθνος (ethnos), which means, according to the lexicon, "a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together - a company, troop, swarm;" and "a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus - the human family - a tribe, nation, people group."

In other words, Jesus is not speaking specifically of the Gentiles - as though of a particular race of people - or those who are not Jewish. Jesus was not a racist in other words.

Rather, Jesus is referring to the portion of humanity that does not accept the existence of the Supreme Being. They are not worshiping the Supreme Being. This segregates Jesus' disciples - who are worshiping God -  from those who do worship the Supreme Being.

So what is the importance of unbelievers being ruled over? Jesus is pointing out the element of hierarchy that exists among the physical world and those who do not accept God's authority. Within this world those who do not accept God as the ultimate authority and ruler are forced to accept the authority of other people within a hierarchy system that requires people to struggle amongst each other for their positions of authority.

Because they identify themselves with the temporary physical body, they are forced to accept the authority of those who govern the physical world.

And the hierarchy system of the physical world is based upon greed, violence and self-centeredness, as those who seize power must battle with others who seek it in order to achieve their power.

"Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave..."

Jesus is referring to his disciples - stating that those who follow Jesus' teachings are freed from the rule of the physical world - because they are devoted to the Supreme Being and accept His authority. They may also be wearing a physical body. But because they identify themselves correctly as with spirit-person within - a child of the Supreme Being - they are not subject to the rule of the physical world.

Jesus is thus distinguishing the form of power-seeking hierarchy among unbelievers to the protocol of spiritual life. In spiritual life, there is no struggle for authority. Everyone in the spiritual realm accepts the Supreme Being as the ultimate authority and ruler. And they seek the most humble position for themselves.

This is the position of love. When a person truly loves someone, they put themselves in the inferior position - seeking to please the one they love.

This is the position the citizens of the spiritual realm put themselves in relation to the Supreme Being. They want to please Him and thus they serve Him.

And because the Supreme Being loves each of His children, pleasing God also includes service to His children.

This is not precisely slavery as we consider it in the physical world. In the physical world some people have forced others to become slaves. This is not what Jesus is referring to. The word "slave" here is being translated from the Greek word δοῦλος (doulos). When used metaphorically, the word means "one who gives himself up to another's will" according to the lexicon.

It is not as if the Supreme Being wants slaves. And those who love and serve Him aren't being forced to become His or other people's slaves.

What Jesus is referring to is voluntary service given out of love. The Supreme Being wants our love - and He gives us each the freedom to love Him and serve Him or not. Thus each of us has the freedom to choose to love and serve God and His children - or not.

But if we choose not to love and serve the Supreme Being and His children then we are left with emptiness, which produces self-centeredness. This eventually leads us to becoming a slave of the physical world as we seek our happiness away from the Supreme Being.

But one who seeks to please the Supreme Being will find humility as their foundation. This is because the spiritual realm is full of love and everyone seeks the position of loving servant. The phrase, "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" renders the concept of service as the measure of advancement, rather than having authority over others - as it is within the physical world.

"... just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve..."

This clarifies how Jesus sees himself. He is not seeing himself as the Supreme Being - as many will attribute to him. Rather, Jesus sees himself as a servant. A servant of the Supreme Being and a servant of humanity.

In fact, servant of humanity is the more appropriate translation for the Greek phrase being translated to "Son of man" - υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

The Greek word that has been translated to “son” is υἱός. While this can indicate a relationship of offspring in the context of a physical family, in this context, as defined in the Greek lexicon, is "one who depends on another or is his follower."

And how would one properly describe someone who depends upon another and/or is his follower? We would call such a person a devoted follower, a devotee, or a loving servant. We know that Jesus is not speaking of becoming a follower of others. Rather, Jesus is speaking of service to others. And Jesus confirms this very meaning when he says he, "did not come to be served, but to serve."

Now if someone says they came to serve, are they not a servant?

And in this case, who did Jesus come to serve?

First and foremost, Jesus is God's devoted loving servant: the loving servant (υἱός) of God (mistranslated as "son of God").

Secondly, Jesus is referring to himself in this statement and elsewhere as, υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

The Greek word, ἀνθρώπου, can either mean "man" or more broadly "mankind," "humankind" or (in context here) "humanity," and τοῦ means "of."

In other words, the Greek phrase υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (used in the statement above), is more appropriately translated to:

"Servant of humanity"

This definition is also being confirmed here, as Jesus clearly states that he and his followers are to be considered servants, not masters. Their position is to serve, and not be served.

We must remember that Jesus is speaking to those who have taken the position of becoming Jesus’ disciples: They were his servants, in other words. The word "disciple" is derived from the word "to discipline". This process of becoming the student and servant of the spiritual teacher had been handed down through the ages among the great teachers such as Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and so on (consider for example Eli and Samuel, or Moses and Joshua). Jesus also illustrated this process as well, when he became the disciple of John the Baptist by accepting baptism from John.

This ancient process of accepting an enlightened spiritual teacher, who has himself accepted a spiritual teacher, was heralded and exalted throughout the ancient world of Judaism. This is also the reason why many considered Jesus the υἱὸς (mistranslated as "son") or servant of David (such as in Matt. 20:30). Certainly Jesus could not physically be David's son, as David had lived about (according to some scholars) a thousand years before Jesus.

Now Jesus is telling his students that in order for others to become eligible for entry into the spiritual world, they had to become the servants of the servants: In other words, the students of Jesus' students. As such, the method of reaching their intended realm required others to become a servant of a servant of a servant (and so on) of a servant of God. This was the time-honored path of disciple-ship.

This is also the path empowered by God. It is only God who can ultimately empower one of His servants to become His representative. But first they must be introduced to God and introduced to the process of being the servant of the servant of God. This is the true initiation process into the kingdom of God.

This system has been all but forgotten among the ecclesiastical sectarian institutions, who select their teachers through elections after qualifying them through impersonal college instruction. This is not the same process because it ignores the personal relationship that exists between the Supreme Being and His representative.

"... and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This is one of the key phrases that the ecclesiastical sectarian teachers cite to claim that Jesus died for everyone’s sins.

This is a ridiculous proposition. If this were true, no one would face any consequences for their actions. We know this by simply looking around and looking at our own lives: Every self-centered activity produces a reaction.

The physical world is the world of consequences. "As you sow, so shall you reap" is the scriptural phrase used. We can see this cause and effect everywhere in the form of suffering as well as achievement. People are suffering in the world not because of some cruel joke by God. There is suffering in the world because suffering is a consequence of previously causing the suffering of others - either in this life or the previous one.

This consequence learning system was accepted by Jesus as he stated:
"Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." (John 5:14)
This was spoken to a person Jesus had healed. He was clearly indicating that sinning (self-centered activities) produces consequences.

So how did Jesus "give his life as a ransom for many" then?

Notice Jesus does not say "all" here. He is not speaking of granting a free pass for everyone just because he suffered on the cross.

Rather, Jesus is speaking of his accepting the persecution and murder of his physical body in order to teach us the importance of loving and serving the Supreme Being. Such a lesson - if we choose to learn it - has the ability to truly save us and purify our consciousness.

Just consider the importance of something that someone is willing to give up their life for.

And when ones consciousness is purified by the understanding of the importance of love for God, they have the ability to transcend the physical world and its various consequences and return to the spiritual realm.

Jesus confirmed that his act was an act of loving service to the Supreme Being (and all of humanity) when he prayed just before his arrest:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)


 (For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)