What is Greatness?

Jesus talking to the apostlesMark: According to

Part 47

Mark 9:33-37

What is Greatness?

It seems, from the time we are born until we eventually fall asleep in death, we are struggling to establish ourselves. The focus of our existence is usually, am I better than the person next to me. Oh, sure there are those like mother Teresa that are not concerned at all with how great they are, they spend their lives lifting up all those around them, with little regard for their own position in life. But truth be told, that is rare, far rarer than we care to admit.

Many feel pastors fall into this group that are always lifting others up, yet I have seen pastors that leave their position in one church to take a position in another church that has more prestige, better pay, and a chance for personal advancement in the future.

It seems throughout life, no matter what we say or do, the goal of most of us, it to at least keep up with our neighbor, and if not, then be better than our neighbor.

Within the church members strive to be recognized for their ability to lead people or give great sums of money to help whatever is their pet project. Most do it because they seek recognition and hope their good will on earth brings them greatness in heaven.

At least that is what they privately think, although with their mouth they say, well I do it because I love the Lord and want to do what is right. Truth be told, many but not all do it for belief in future reward.

Please, do not get me wrong, I am certainly not attempting to judge anyone, this is just an observation that has been gained over a lifetime of watching people. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think this is the norm for all people. Quite contrary, I have seen many saints who have made a practice of the golden rule, not for personal gain, but because they truly loved their neighbor as themselves and even a few that have loved their neighbor better then themselves. Their joy in the Lord and unselfishness toward others is makes them wonderful to be around.

I guess, I would have thought that after 3 years of almost constantly being around Jesus, that the disciples would have developed some of this, love others, better than themselves attitude of a true Christian. But alas, they had not. You would think after having seen this in the life of their Lord and Teacher, Jesus, that they would have developed this character trait. But as Jesus is explaining to them of His upcoming death burial and resurrection, they upon traveling down the road to Capernaum, hung back from Jesus, they argued amongst themselves as to “who amongst us, is the greatest?”

Then He came to Capernaum, and when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputer among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

The purpose of the book of Mark is to not only tell the story of Jesus through the eyes of Peter, but to show that Jesus served all those he came in contact with. He supplied them with spiritual knowledge, spiritual healing, physical healing. He brought hope to the hopeless and even healing and understanding and comfort to the heathen that lived around Judea, such as the Samarians, the woman and her daughter in Syro-Phoenicia and the demonic by the sea that lived in a grave yard.

The disciples had asked Jesus to teach them to pray as he prayed, for he spend many hours in prayer, praying for his disciples, the people he had met and would meet the following day, and even for you and I. Jesus came to serve humanity, showing just a small piece in the picture of salvation of how all heaven serves humanity in the plan of salvation. Therefore, one would have thought that after all this time spent with Jesus, that the disciples would begin to get it and understand who and what Jesus was and by his example of service toward others, they to would learn that Jesus’ greatness came not from his divinity, but by the example of His great love for those He came in contact with, and His life of service to others.

Then he took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me.” What is Jesus talking about. Is he stating that we need to befriend children in the church or in the world? Or, is Jesus trying to state something completely different?

Years ago, I worked exclusively with children that were 4 to 7 years of age. My wife and I had a ministry to these children and after reading this passage, my thoughts returned to those years spent among this age group. There are exceptions to the rule, but generally they live to serve their parents and teachers. They eagerly wish to do as asked when they know that they are loved and do so with little or no concern for themselves and their position within their little community or any desire for reward.

Jesus was attempting to tell the disciples and all us that this is the attitude Jesus wishes for each of His true followers. He longs for His true followers to serve others without regard for their own personal gain. He longs for committed Christians that are more concerned with those around them, to lift others up and in so doing they receive the Character of Christ within them, but in reality, it is not Christ that lives out from within them, it is our Heavenly Father who lives out from within us as we develop the character of Christ, who exemplified the Character of His Father and our Father in His life.

Therefore Jesus lifted up the characteristics of simple service and devotion that children show to God, their parents and their teachers as something Christian should endeavor to follow.


Published by The Bible In Your Hand

Hi, I am Pastor Lester Bentley, a devoted husband, father, and Pastor for the Northeastern Wyoming District of the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. I am committed to the great gospel commission as stated in Matthew 28:19, 20.

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