Summary: We think that we can find greatness in accumulating wealth, friends, accomplishments and the like. However, Jesus tells us that true greatness is found

-What does it mean to be great?

-It’s an age old question

-Everyone ultimately is on a quest for greatest

-People search for this elusive gem in many different places or pursuits

-People look for greatness is wealth, power, prestige, fame, accomplishments, friends

-However, those will all fail at some point to demonstrate greatness because there will always be someone else who has more or has done more

-Greatness is ultimately very elusive {PAUSE}

-Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this week

-Instead of responding with a bit of humility at such a high honor, Michael Jordan used the opportunity to rub his greatness into the faces of all those that had snubbed him in the past

-Not exactly the definition of humility

-Instead, he might as well have just pounded his chest, declaring himself the greatest {PAUSE}

-Muhammad Ali was known for being rather loquacious

-He was well known for saying that he would “fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee”

-Muhammad Ali was known for taunting his opponents with his claims to superiority

-He would claim, on a regular basis, to be the greatest {PAUSE}

-We encounter a similar experience in our Gospel lesson for today

-We see Jesus’ disciples arguing about who is the greatest

-However, to really get the full picture, we really need to go back a bit to set the stage for what we are talking about today

-We really need to jump back to the previous chapter

-Near the end of chapter 8, Jesus takes His disciples to Caesarea Philippi on the southwestern slope of Mount Hermon, the northernmost extent of Jesus’ ministry

-He was outside the rule of Herod Antipas, among non-Jewish people that lived in the area

-Caesarea Philippi is on a terrace over 1000 feet about the surrounding fertile farmland

-The area, in Jesus’ day, was scattered with numerous temples to the Syrian god Baal

-A cave near Caesarea Philippi was the supposed birthplace of the Greek god Pan

-Herod the Great also built a temple to honor the divinity of Caesar Augustus

-There, with the backdrop of numerous deity worship, Jesus takes His disciples and asks them who people say that He is

-When He receives numerous false answers, He asks them who they say that He is

-Peter then gives His great Caesarea Philippi confession, “You are the Christ”

-Peter gets that right but right afterward Jesus predicts His death for the first time

-Peter argues with Jesus that this could not possibly be true

-You see, the problem was with understanding what it means to be the Christ, the Messiah

-The problem was really with the definition of greatness

-We usually see greatness as being the best at something, winning awards, pounding one’s chest and declaring themselves the greatest

-That, we refer to, as the theology of glory

-That is not what God is all about

-God is more into the theology of the cross

-By that I mean that one becomes great through sacrifice

-Let me illustrate

-During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in trouble.

-Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances.

-He couldn’t disappoint his people, and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable.

-After careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country.

-For each ornament received, he determined to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude.

-Each decoration would be inscribed, "I gave gold for iron, 18l3."

-The response was overwhelming.

-Even more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than their former jewelry.

-The reason, of course, is clear.

-The decorations were proof that they had sacrificed for their king.

-Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear jewelry, and thus was established the Order of the Iron Cross.

-Members wore no ornaments except a cross of iron for all to see.

-When Christians come to their King, they too exchange the flourishes of their former life for a cross.

-But in Christianity, not only His subjects but the King himself, has given up a life of glory for a cross

-Because of His obedience, God has given Jesus that name above every other name

-He calls us to take up our cross on a daily basis and follow Him

-That is what makes us truly great – when we suffer like our savior did {PAUSE}

-When I was planting a church, I had some members who were in conflict

-I was trying to use my position as their pastor to bring about reconciliation

-However, in that process God convicted me of my unresolved conflict

-I had been in conflict for several years with a lady from a neighboring congregation at which I had helped out when I was first getting the church plant off the ground

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