""Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called 'Rabbi' by others. But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah." (Matt. 23:8-10)So the topic Jesus is turning to regards the desire to be the "greatest" - translated from the Greek word μείζων (meizōn). Why? Because those who often claim the position of teacher (or rabbi - as a Jewish teacher during Jesus times' was referred to) often see themselves as being great. They seek to be an authority, to have authority over others.
Jesus was advising his students not to take this course.
The word "servant" in Jesus' statement is being translated from the Greek word διάκονος (diakonos) which means "one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master - a servant, attendant, minister."
But servant of whom?
Jesus is teaching that we are all created by God to be His loving servants. This is our natural position. None of us are masters.
Yet look around. We see practically everywhere, including in us, the desire to be famous, respected, admired and have authority over others. We see that practically everyone around us is striving to become powerful, and thus have authority. Why are we all striving to be the greatest?
Let's go back to the part that God created us to be His loving servants. Love requires freedom. Without freedom, there is no such thing as love. In other words, we have to choose whether we want to love and serve the Supreme Being. Otherwise, we would simply be slaves or robots.
So while the Supreme Being created us as His loving servants, He also gave us the ability to choose between loving and serving Him, or serving someone else or serving ourselves.
The problem is that because we were created to love Him, if we turn away from that we are left empty. This leaves us with an insatiable desire to become complete. This we try to achieve through greed and self-centered activity.
So why is it that there are so few people around us who choose to love and serve God? This is because this physical world is the place the Supreme Being set up for those who do not want to love and serve Him.
We might compare this physical world to those traveling carnivals that set up for a few weeks once a year outside a town. They set up their rides, the big ferris wheel, amusement games, clowns, and stages. And for a couple of weeks, the townspeople come to the carnival. At the carnival, the people can enjoy all the rides and shows for awhile, but then after a week or two the carnival packs up and goes to the next town. At the carnival, people can pretend they are cowboys, clowns or just ride the rides. But once everything gets packed into the big trucks, the people have to return to the reality of their day-to-day lives.
Our physical body is like the carnival, and the physical world is like the town the carnival sets up in for awhile. With the physical body we can act out our desires. We can work our way into being the boss, becoming wealthy, becoming famous, driving a fancy car, and having others respect us. Here we can play out our fantasies.
For awhile that is - until our body dies. Then the charade is over. Then the whole façade fades away. All our accumulated wealth, our name, our possessions - they are all gone in a flash. In other words, like the carnival, the physical world only has the illusion of permanence.
The physical world is also not that simple. We can't just do exactly what we want. Everything has a price. We must work hard, and make sacrifices to get to our positions of fame, power, wealth or influence. They are not free. There is a price for everything in this physical world.
There is also a consequence for everything we do. Whether we help someone or hurt someone, we get returned to us what we put out. Whether it takes a lifetime or multiple lifetimes to have the consequences returned, every action eventually has its reaction.
These are the laws of the physical world because God also designed the physical world to help teach us. He wants us to evolve, and learn who we really are, and what will make us ultimately happy. This is because He loves us.
Here we learn that being admired by others, being respected, having wealth and power - none of these make us happy. Even with all these things, we are still empty inside. Yet when we help others, when we love others and when we serve others, we get a glimpse of happiness. This is because serving is part of our natural identity, and this world is set up to teach us this - if we choose to learn it.
The ultimate happiness is to return to our natural position as God's loving servant. While the physical world is ultimately set up to teach us that we are servants, we will still never be forced to become God's loving servants. In fact, quite the contrary. For those who begin the path towards resuming their position as God's loving servant, the mechanisms of the physical world tempt us and test us even harder.
Why? This is God's way of making sure that we really want to return to Him. He isn't looking for a convenient decision. He is looking for us to commit ourselves.
The spiritual world is quite the opposite place from the physical world. While we in the physical world are each trying to be the greatest, those inhabitants of the spiritual world are trying to give more and more of themselves. They want to be the servants. They want to give themselves to God and God's associates. They each see themselves as the lowest and God as the greatest, and other children of God as greater than themselves.
This is the consciousness that pervades the spiritual world - the consciousness that brings complete fulfillment. No one is empty in the spiritual world - as we are here in the physical world. Here, even the most wealthy, powerful and well-respected of us who are not loving and serving God are empty within.
So Jesus is showing his students what kind of consciousness they need to develop in order to return to the spiritual realm. He is trying to show them that the mechanisms of God's physical universe will eventually humble those who believe they are great. He is trying to shortcut his students' learning by giving them the knowledge whereby they can have a change of consciousness without having to go through decades - even lifetimes - of learning before they can return to their homes in the spiritual world.
This is how Jesus saves: by his teachings. And what was his greatest teaching?
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
(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.)