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Jesus Teaches True Greatness

(Mark 10:32-45)

Lesson 9 -- first quarter 2005
January 30, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Are you fond of position and power?

Do you aspire to serve others for their sakes?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

A focus on worldly greatness dulls spiritual sensitivity.

As they all walked to Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples yet again what awaited Him in the city. His words fell on deaf ears. His impending physical agony and His present turmoil of soul did not register on their consciousness. Whatever He had to say meant less to them than their interest in their own place and prestige in His kingdom.

Worldly greatness specializes in exalting self.

Worldly greatness is about me. If my life reveals a focus on me, then it reveals a distraction from Jesus. I should listen for echoes from my own heart in the words of some of the disciples and in the reactions of others. "We would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire...Grant unto us that we...And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John" (Mark 10:35,37,41).

Christian greatness comes from being Christlike.

The Christian's focus, purpose, and power must be (and must constantly return to) Jesus. He came to serve others. He came to live and give His life for others. When our lives demonstrate His life, they also take on a measure of His greatness.

No other calling supersedes Christian service.

"Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto..." (Mark 10:43-45).

Questions and Responses

How could the disciples change the subject so quickly and drastically?

Before you marvel too much at their insensitivity and short attention span, review your own conversational focus after most church services. You and I, like the disciples, will miss the point and power of the teaching we "hear" if we fail to personalize it. They didn't have ears to hear what Jesus was talking about because they were so occupied with their own (more important?) thoughts and concerns. So their apparent change in subject was no change at all -- they had been on that subject all along!

What was Jesus talking about in Mark 10:38?

"Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"

Other Scripture passages (such as Luke 22:42) indicate that Jesus was talking about the culmination of His earthly service and self-sacrifice. Jesus was asking His disciples if they too could pour out their lives in selfless service. (Of course they didn't understand His question or even the truthfulness of their own answer!)

How should we respond to those who lord it over us?

The ten were no better than the two. The request of the two revealed their self-absorption. So did the response of the ten!

How would Jesus answer the question? What response would He want from us? "Be servant of all" (Mark 10:44).

"But can't we at least relate to each other as equals?" Hmm. Why?

So if I want to be the greatest, I should serve?

No, not if you're still measuring greatness as the world does. They measure greatness on a comparative basis, which means it is almost always at the expense of someone else.

God measures greatness by the expense exacted from self, not others. God measures greatness by the standard established by the Lord Jesus. God measures greatness by the exaltation He derives.

By all means, serve! But do so for the blessing and benefit of God and your fellowman.

Did Jesus serve because He wanted to be great?

No. That's backward. Because He is great, He wanted to serve. His greatness caused Him to serve.

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