They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Mark 9:33-34
When was the last time your arguing got you in trouble?
I have fond childhood memories of weekly (as in every Sunday!) traveling to visit relatives all over the Bay Area as a family of 6 in our station wagon. On occasion, when we would leave after dinner to head home, my parents let my sister and I lay down in the far back section of the station wagon and fall asleep. More often than not, my sister and I would argue over space, over blanket usage – over anything, really – and more often than not, being the youngest, my arguing would get me in trouble. On occasion, the car would be pulled over and yours truly would receive “the right hand of fellowship” from my dad for arguing.
This Sunday, in our Questions Jesus Asked series, we are going to explore an argument that broke out amongst the disciples over who was the greatest among them. Today, I would have us reflect on a key aspect of the passage that is often overlooked.
In responding to the argument, it becomes clear that Jesus isn’t angry at their dispute, neither is He annoyed at their ambition for greatness. But He goes to considerable lengths to align it. Jesus’ alignment is what we desperately need today as individual followers of Jesus and as a church community. We need to pursue greatness, as God defines it!
Did you know that Jesus was consumed with greatness? Following Jesus means we should share His passion for greatness, as God defines it:
- It was prophesied of Jesus in Luke 1:32 simply summed Jesus’ life up in a prophecy as: He will be great. In Luke 9:43 we saw that everyone marveled that Jesus was great!
- In Matthew 5:16, Jesus motivated His followers to live ethically by promising greatness, saying that great would be their reward in heaven.
- Jesus also encouraged us to strive for greatness in Matthew 5:19 — not so much in an earthly way, but to be known as great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
- People displaying great faith got Jesus’ attention: in Matthew 8:10, He publicly acknowledged a man’s great faith. In Matthew 15:28, He did the same with a woman’s great faith.
- Jesus commended John the Baptist as the greatest man who ever lived in Matthew 11:11.
- In Matthew 12:6, Matthew 12:41-42, and John 8, Jesus said He was greater than the temple, greater than Jonah, Jacob, Abraham, and greater than Solomon.
- In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus let us in on the greatest commandment of all the 610 commands in the Old Testament.
- Heaven is all about greatness! Revelation says we will appear before a Great White Throne, and have a great Supper of the Lamb. It also says that Heaven is filled with great mountains that overlook the New Jerusalem, a great city, with great streets and great walls.
- You will find the word “great” used 95 times in the Gospels alone, 878 times in the whole Bible. Who thinks God isn’t concerned about greatness?
Our culture is also consumed with greatness. Why was Jim Collin’s book Good to Great an international best seller? Would a business book titled Good really sell? I would have us all consider that followers of Jesus should be consumed with greatness too. Not as our culture defines it, but as God does.
For a follower of Jesus, to discard the pursuit of Biblical greatness is just poor stewardship and foolishness. Greatness in God’s eyes is what this Sunday is all about. I don’t want you to miss it.
This Sunday, we will dive deep into Mark 9:30-37. Read the text, let the text read you, and let’s come together this Sunday to worship our great God, celebrate His great grace, and be renewed in our godly greatness ambition. I look forward to being together this Sunday!
I love being your pastor!