The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12
Jesus here in today’s passage is talking about servant leadership. He says this “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” The Greek word used here that is translated exalt is “hupsoo” which literal means “to lift up”. However it can be used in several different ways: (1) literally of the “lifting” up of Christ in His crucifixion; illustratively, of the serpent of bronze; (2) figuratively, of spiritual privileges bestowed on a city; of “raising” to dignity and happiness; of haughty self-exaltation, and, contrastingly, of being “raised” to honor, as a result of self-humbling; of spiritual “uplifting” and revival; of bringing into the blessings of salvation through the gospel; (3) with a combination of the literal and metaphorical, of the “exaltation” of Christ by God the Father. Jesus’ usage of the word exalt here is more in line with someone who thinks more highly of themselves than they should. Jesus says that those who think more highly of themselves than they should will be “humbled”. What Jesus is saying here is that those who think more highly of themselves than they should will eventually be put in their place.
Jesus contrasted the making low of those who think more highly of themselves than they should with the result of seeing yourself in your rightful position. Because when you “humble” yourself you are willing to do the things that might be viewed as being beneath you by others. And this is what will lead you to be “exalted”, not in the same sense that “exalted” was used earlier in today’s passage, but in the sense that you will be raised to dignity and happiness and raised to honor because of your self-humbling. Dr. Tony Evans wrote this in his study Bible notes for today’s passage:
There is to be no elitism in the family of God, and the cure for elitism is servanthood. When was the last time you served someone-someone who couldn’t do anything for you in return? That’s what Jesus did. The eternal Son of God became a servant to save those who couldn’t save themselves. As a result, God the Father exalted him. And that’s what Jesus promises his disciples: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”