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Who Is The Greatest


Mark 9: 30-37

I would like for you to look at verse 31 again:

“For He was teaching His disciples and telling them…”

In fact, if we will learn what Jesus teaches here, we might find ourselves more united as a body and growing in numbers.


Here in this passage Jesus is passing through Galilee and His disciples are with Him.

So look what He says to them in verse 31. He says:

“The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.”

But I want you to notice the disciples’ response to this statement. Look at verse 32.

“But they did not understand {this} statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”

And I can understand them not understanding His being raised on the third day.

But why were they afraid to ask what He was talking about?

They were afraid to ask because they were afraid of what they might hear.

On their agenda Jesus becomes King and when He does He restores Israel back to the top.

Jesus dying just doesn’t fit their agenda.

So, when Jesus makes this statement about being delivered into the hands of men and dying they didn’t ask what He was talking about because they were afraid of what they might hear.

Let me show something: Look with me at Galatians 3 and verse 26. Paul says:

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

But look at the next verse.

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

 Look with me at Eph. 2 and look at verse 8.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

But they don’t like to hear what the next verse says:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Just like these disciples we sometimes are afraid to hear what God has to say because it doesn’t fit our agenda…our thinking…what we want to hear.

Let’s go back now to Mark 9 and look at verse 33.

And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He {began} to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”       But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which {of them was} the greatest. And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

He knew didn’t He?

Instead, they are talking about which one of them was the greatest…which one was the most important to Jesus.

And then they come to Capernaum, and they get to this house….and Jesus says, “What were you discussing?”

 And then Jesus sits down…and they are listening closely…and He says: “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

It is the same for us.

Now, look again at what Jesus says in verse 35. Jesus says,

“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

And they could be, couldn’t they?

And do you see that word “servant?”

If a person wants to be first with Christ….then he chooses to be last…and he chooses to be a servant to others.

And to illustrate His point look what Jesus does in verse 36.

And taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,

“Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Now, why does Jesus take this child up in His arms?

Now, how humbling is it to be a servant to a “child?”

But there is more…He is also stressing the kind of servant they must be

 And let me ask you, what can this child do for me?

That is Jesus’ point too.

So many times we want to serve those who can “do things for us.”

Jesus is saying, “You serve everyone like you would a child.”

When we make those kinds of comments and judgments…what are we doing?

Jesus served everyone alike…made no difference if they were old, young, rich, poor, Gentile or Jew…He received them all.

And if we will do the same, if we will live this same way…and not just talk about it…then we will change not only our lives…but the lives of others as well.

These disciples were walking along discussing who was going to occupy the chief seats and that was not some little thing.

That same kind of attitude and thinking has embittered many “children” and it has torn many of our sister congregations apart…and it can and will tear us apart too if we are the same.

Let’s be first by being last…let’s be servants to all…and let’s serve others as well as each other the same way we would a child.