Being Great In God’s Eyes: Mark 9:33-37

Focus Passage: Mark 9:33-37 (NIV)

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Read Mark 9:33-37 in context and/or in other translations on!

Have you ever wanted to do something great for God?

I know I have. This blog, newsletter, and website are one such “great thing” in my own life. However, in each of our lives, I believe there is a desire to start something great, do something great, or be a part of something great – and have the choices of our lives impact the world long after we are gone.

Our passage for this entry brings us into a similar argument that was happening among the disciples, only they were not arguing over doing something great, but over who would get the greatest position in Jesus’ coming kingdom. Each of the disciples were already aware that they were a part of something greater than each of them individually, and in this argument, pride and selfishness jump into the mix since they are looking to organize and rank each other’s worth in this big thing.

In Jesus’ response, He gives a clear answer regarding how to be great, though His answer is not one the disciples wanted to hear. Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (v. 35)

In this answer, Jesus turns the idea of climbing up the ladder into one where we are to climb down. I have heard that we could describe this as an inverted (upside-down) leadership pyramid, where the CEO serves the leadership and each member of the leadership serves their employees.

However, I believe Jesus’ response goes deeper than organizational structure. In this response, Jesus is teaching about the character of God, and about His own character. God served everyone (both active sinners as well as “perfect” Christians) by letting Jesus come to earth as a human. Jesus gave up everything and served everyone by laying down His life on a cross. Jesus’ death was for all humanity, not just those who think like us or believe in the same way we do.

Mark’s gospel is the only one that includes the phrase “the servant of all”, and in this phrase, we see Jesus asking all His followers (or at least the ones that have a desire to be great), to serve everyone, with no biases or favoritism, since God is not biased in His love, and His favorite person is everyone. Each of us is unique and special in His eyes, and we are all irreplaceable.

When we serve like Jesus served, we will become a servant of all – helping everyone without showing favorites, serving wisely with good boundaries so that our help does not enable/hurt others, and helping in ways that won’t burn ourselves out.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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