Summary: In our passage today, Jesus gives us God’s blueprint for greatness.

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Mark 9:33-50

INTRO: A TV news camera crew on assignment in southern Florida filming the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew. Amid the devastation and debris stood one house on its foundation. The owner was asked, "why is your house the only one still standing?" He replied "I built this house myself. I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for 2x6 roof trusses, I used 2x6 roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane." The blueprint this man used yielded great results. When the right blueprint is used, the right result follows. We all have blueprints - plans and strategies for achieving what we want in life, for being great. What blueprint are you using to build your life? Is it having the desired effect?

PREV: In our passage today, Jesus gives us God’s blueprint for greatness. Its found in Mark 9. Notice the occasion for giving this blueprint, as I read vv. 33-34.

A. The disciples argued about who was the greatest

As they traveled, they were arguing, like kids in the back seat. When they arrive, Jesus asks, “What were you arguing about?”

They were embarrassed because they were arguing about who was the greatest. Not who was the greatest baseball player, or president of all time, but which one of them was the greatest, had the highest rank:

Peter James and John – we got to go up the mountain!

Andrew – if it wasn’t for me, Peter wouldn’t be here.

Judas – I get to keep track of the money…

This was a common fixation in their society.

And so it is in ours…

We vie for status by our cars, jobs, kids achievements.

Who gets the bigger office, plum assignment, etc.

I worked at a church where staff parking was key…

How do you get to be great? What is the blueprint to follow for greatness? Notice what he says first in v. 35.

B. Jesus shows them that greatness comes from humility and service

First, take note!

God assigns status in the opposite way our world does.

If you want to be first, you must be the very last.

If you want to be on top, you must be on the bottom.

It is the servant of all who is most esteemed in God’s eyes.

This is willingly choosing to attend to the needs of others.

In God’s view, the mail room clerk is on the path to greatness, not the CEO.

This is a radical change in blueprints!

We don’t want to hear this. We can’t even stand to go last at a stop sign!

But this is Jesus’ way: Cf. Mark 10:43-45.

To make this crystal clear, Jesus gives them (& us) a picture of this last shall be first idea. Notice the picture he creates as I read Mark 9: 36-37.

He picks up a little child and sets him/her before them.

In Aramaic, the word for child and servant is the same…

Children were the least “significant” people in their world.

If you want to be great, seek to be like a child – one without rank, position, privilege, but one who serves.

In v. 37, to welcome one of these little ones means to welcome a disciple.

“Welcome” as in 6:11 – sent by Jesus.

When you become like one of these children, you can be sure of your identification with Jesus – a special relationship.

So, if you want to be great, in God’s eyes,


Attend to the needs of others. Seek to serve rather than to be served. Just imagine the impact if you applied this!

“Honey, what can I do for you tonight?”

“Mom. Let me do that for you.”

A whole batch of you will do this at VBS in 2 weeks…

Result: A close relationship with Jesus!


The special relationship that “children,” followers have with Jesus and the Father is to be enjoyed. But we often turn it sour when we become exclusive; we think its up to us to determine who is in and who is out of the family. Notice how the disciples did this as I

Read v. 38.

A. The disciples were exclusive

This mention of a special relationship with Jesus prompts John to bring up a situation that bothered them.

They saw a man who was driving out demons in the name of Jesus, and they tried to stop him. Why?

“Because he was not one of us.”

They didn’t like the man’s unauthorized use of Jesus’ name

He wasn’t part of their exclusive group.

Ironically, he succeeded where they had failed (9:17-18).

True, he wasn’t part of their group, but he was a believer:

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