The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached
Matthew 20:20-34
January 5, 2002

If there is one word in the English language that is sure to cause a debate when spoken, that word is “greatest.” In fact, take two people, any people, and you can always stir trouble by using this simple word. For example, ask a Duke fan and a Carolina fan who’s the greatest basketball coach of all time, and
they will debate one another for hours. Ask an Eastern North Carolinian and a Western North Carolinian who has the greatest barbeque, and watch the sparks fly. Ask two mechanics what is the greatest car ever made and they will eagerly debate their opinion. Ask two people who the greatest president or the greatest politician was, and they’ll chase that rabbit as long as they have breath to do so. Ask parents what is the greatest school? Ask observers who has the greatest children? Ask friends what is the greatest movie ever made? Ask soldiers who was the greatest general or commander? There is something about that word “greatest” that stirs something inside of us.
Why? Because greatness is something we aspire to. Greatness is something we care about. We want greatness to describe our performance, our work, our families, our schools and even our churches.

Jesus said in Matthew five that there would be those genuinely saved people who would be called the least in the kingdom of heaven and others who would be called “great” in the kingdom of heaven. What’s the difference? How can we tell them apart? How do we define what greatness is? How can we aspire to greatness on a spiritual level? What do we mean when
we talk about greatness?

I believe that Jesus gave us the supreme example of what greatness is in the eyes of God in our passage today. It seems the disciples had a few lessons to learn about what it truly meant to be “great.” In fact, Jesus taught them three
lessons about greatness that we must know in order to achieve greatness in life. I want us to look at those this morning. First, I want us to see that true greatness in God’s eyes is ...


As Jesus was nearing the cross, he was approached by the mother of James and John, Salome. She came to Jesus and knelt down. On the outside, she seemed sincere, but Jesus saw right through it. She really came to ask Jesus for a favor. She worshipped him not for love of the Savior or gratitude for His
blessings, but because of what she thought she could get from him. Unfortunately, there are still many today who come to Jesus for that very same purpose.

I bet she was one of those people who had an innate ability to make people mad. She knew just the words to use to “ruffle people’s feathers.” Salome was the sister of Mary which would have meant that James and John were first cousins of Jesus. So Salome came to Jesus with a special request. In verse twenty-one she asked, “Grant that one of my children may sit on your right hand and the other on your left in your kingdom.”

Her request
Mark Plaugher
June 23, 2007
Wow how this spoke to my heart!
Excellent sermon. A true grasp of servant leadership.