What Is Your Definition of Greatness?

In Mark 9 we read the following very interesting paragraph:  33 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 disputed 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.” 36 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.” We read in other gospels this conversation amongst the disciples about which of them would be the greatest. The disciples had the idea that Jesus would, sooner or later, reveal Himself to be king and every king needs an administration and they wanted the prime seats at the royal table. I suppose that all of us feel this way don’t we? We want to be “great”. We want to be valuable. We want to be appreciated. We want fame and honor. Most people also want to use their position to help others but the more “sinister” side of us wants to be great for our own personal benefit.

The disciples didn’t want to talk to Jesus about this, yet we know it was on their minds. We even read of James and John’s mother asking Jesus about this on behalf of her sons…that must have been embarrassing! But Jesus, and the teaching of the New Testament define greatness in a different way. Jesus defines greatness as being least, being a servant, being vulnerable. I think one of the reasons Jesus picked up a child at this point was to reinforce that greatness meant serving others, especially those who could not do anything for us. To “receive” a child wasn’t going to bring any earthly benefit but it would demonstrate servanthood and humility. Jesus was a walking definition of greatness and yet He walked with a cross. He humbled Himself to the point of death. And yet what name is greater than the name of Jesus? None. I hope your definition of greatness is consistent with Jesus’ definition of greatness. If not, ask Him to help you change your definition.


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