Jesus Defines Greatness

January 12, 2020


January 12, 2020

Mike Rose
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What does it mean to be GREAT?   How should GREATNESS be defined?

The dictionary says, …the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent.

Distinguished = successful, authoritative, commanding great respect.

Eminent = fame or recognized superiority, within a sphere or profession.

In the context of common understanding, GREATNESS is the achievement of being at the “top of the ladder with others below, looking up longingly to have what you’ve attained.

Question: Would Jesus agree with this common understanding of GREATNESS?

The setting

We’ve discovered that Matthew and Mark record many of the same accounts of Jesus’life and ministry as Luke does, often with additional information.

Mark tells us that Jesus and the 12 are in Capernaum.  He also reports that they were at someone’s house. Peter’s house was close to Capernaum, perhaps they were there, we don’t know.

What we know is that Jesus is at the close of His Galilean ministry and prepared to travel to Jerusalem. His final journey there. In the months to come He will focus intensely on His discipleship of the 12.The lesson of this occasion will serve as a foundation for their future development.

Returning to the text it seems the disciples had become full of                      self-centered pride that needed transformation to Christ-centered humility.



Pride: Unity’s enemy – VS46-48

After arriving at the house in Capernaum, Jesus inquired about a “discussion”the 12 were having as they traveled. They remained silent for a time because their “discussion” was more of an “argument” and the issue was about GREATNESS.

Who among them was The Greatest

Mark tells us thatJesus’ first response was direct and clear although it is doubtful the 12 found it satisfying.

If anyone would be first, he must be

last of all and servant of all.

Truth Point #1: The fleshly desire for greatness requires we put self-first so we can rise to the top, but greatness in the Kingdom of God requires we put ________________so we can help others reach their fullest potential.

To make His point Jesus reached out to one of the little boys in the house and pulled him close to His side. We see this as cute and heart-warming, but that’s NOT what Jesus was going for. In that culture children did not enjoy the prominence they have in ours.

·        The Talmud taught that spending time with children was a waste of time.

·        One Rabbi wrote: “Morning sleep,mid-day wine, chattering with children and tarring in places where…common people assemble, destroy a man.”

When Jesus pulled the boy close, He was creating a physical illustration of what He was about to say.

Physical Illustration = Jesus (most treasured by the disciples) juxtaposed to a child (whom they considered of little consequence).

Jesus’ statement = “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me…” How you relate to this child(by implication all who are considered lowly) is a sign that one belongs to Me and The Father.

Truth Point #2: Saving and sanctifying grace reorient one’s understanding of what is great and what is not. Jesus’ followers ________________because it is the lowly who have Jesus’ attention. Luke 5:31-32

GREATNESS in the Kingdom of God is NOT defined in the same way it is defined in the kingdom of man.

Truth Point #3: It’s not who gets the biggest crown or their name in lights or the most praise by man,but who follows Jesus in the pathway of _______________, who is great. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus practicing what He preached. Unlike the apostles, Jesus deserves first place,He is the preeminent One, He is the fullness of GREATNESS.

However,Jesus’ GREATNESS goes beyond being God. Instead of grasping, wrangling, clawing and fighting to maintain His elevated position, He willingly laid that aside to become a servant.

He became last, He became least… dying a criminal’s death on a cross …so He could elevate repentant sinners to a place of acceptance and inclusion into the family of God.

Jesus didn’t just teach a truth. He lived it out. He became for a time the least among us all and His incomparable humility burst into unimaginable GREATNESS!

exclusivity driven by pride –vs49-50

John reported to Jesus that he and his fellow apostles witnessed someone doing the works of The Kingdom, but because that person was not of their group, they tried to put a stop to it.

The question that must be asked is… WHY? If a person is doing the works of The Kingdom, why would you want to hinder them?

Jesus’response says it all: Do not stop himWHY?the one who is not against you is for you.”

Truth Point #4: There are points of belief that warrant disfellowship (separation) and those that don’t. Christlike _______________ and Holy Spirit _______________are essential in drawing the line correctly.  

Wrap Up

The overall issue at stake in this passage is that of PRIDE.

Truth Point #5: PRIDE is an insidious monster that _______________ where division is not necessary.

·        …who is greatest among us… is never the right question. Will I humble myself like Jesus to be a servant to others, that’s the right question.

·        …you are not of our group… suggesting that others are not rightful disciples of Christ is a position one must come to with Divine humility and discernment.

Do you struggle with pride?  If so, consider James 4:6: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Pride brings unneeded division between people and it maintains unneeded division between sinful man and holy God.

Pride says, “I don’t need a Savior.”

Pride says, “I’m not that bad.”

Pride says, “ I will earn my way to God.”

God stands against such pride, but to the humble and repentant, God wipes their slate clean, embraces them and calls them His son/daughter.  

Where do you stand today?

In pride or in humble repentance.