The Greatest of All Time
Read Mark 10:42-45 (ESV)
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How does Jesus’ description of greatness differ from the way the world views greatness?
We are a culture obsessed with greatness. Just watch documentaries on any sports channel that highlight “the greats” of every sport. We love competition because it separates the average from the excellent. Reality TV features baking competitions, talent shows, home remodeling showdowns, races, dance-offs...really almost any activity you can think of has a competition on TV. We all want to be great at something and we all enjoy marveling at the greatness in others.
But who is the greatest of all time? The greatest man who ever lived? Jesus wins that contest by a landslide. Even when He humbled Himself and became a man, He was still God. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He is good and wise. Just and loving. And He was sinless. He was perfect. No human can compete with Him on any level. None of us even come close. We all fall pathetically short of His greatness.
But when James and John start asking for a position of honor in His kingdom, Jesus doesn’t tell them to be like Him in His greatness. He tells them they have to be like Him in His suffering and death (Mark 10:35-40). The honor to be had is not sharing in His glory but in His humiliation and shame.
Jesus went on to speak today’s passage to all of His disciples. They were expecting Him to become a political force and as His inner circle, they were expecting Him to give them powerful positions as well. But Jesus said that they are not to lord their God-given authority over the people. Instead, they are supposed to humbly serve others.
Jesus pointed out that, as His disciples, they were to be learning from Him. He was not lording His authority over other men even though He had all of the power in the world and every right to do so. Instead, Jesus dedicated His life to serving others. His entire ministry was about teaching others and performing miracles that were a blessing to them. He especially humbled Himself in His death when He died on the cross for us. He gave up His life even though He was powerful enough to stop it. He willingly laid His life down so that the entire world might be saved.
Friends, in Jesus’ kingdom, humility, service, and sacrifice lead to greatness. There is no other way. In Mark 9:35, Jesus put it this way: “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” How can you make yourself last and serve sacrificially in His name today?
Jesus, I don’t need honor, wealth, or fame. Help me to lay my life down in service to others. Help me to give up my selfish wants and desires and, in humility, consider others more important than myself (Philippians 2:3). Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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