22140.033 Who Is the Greatest?

Then they came to Capernaum. After Jesus was inside the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” —Mark 9:33-35

Can’t you just hear the disciples? “I’m the greatest” … “Oh no! You’re quite mistaken; I’m the greatest” … “You guys are both crazy! Didn’t you hear me say that He was the Christ? I’m confident I am the greatest!” … and on and on it went through the voices of twelve disciples who desired human recognition, elevation, and admiration. How very easy it is to fall into the trap of longing for praise from men rather than God! Pride is an insidious monster–it grabs us by the neck before we know it! Jesus tells us in John:

“How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another and don’t seek the praise that comes from the only God?” —John 5:44

Don’t get me wrong, we all can use an “Atta boy” or an “Atta girl” from time to time to strengthen and encourage. That’s not the kind of praise Jesus is referring to here. It is the elevation of self for affirmation and recognition that is to be despised. Anytime we try to elevate ourselves overtly or covertly, God is displeased. It is not about us. It is all about Christ and His name being glorified and magnified above all. As John the Baptist said:

“He must become more important while I become less important.” —John 3:30

We are told by the prophet Micah:

“He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the LORD really wants from you: He wants you to carry out justice, to love faithfulness, and to live obediently before your God.” —Micah 6:8

Jesus turned the world upside down with His teaching. To be the greatest we must be the servant of all. Jesus said:

“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 20:28

Take It to Heart

In God’s economy, down is up! To be great, one must serve. There is joy and contentment in service done willingly, without thought of receiving human credit. God sees everything we do and His recompense is great.

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