Summary: Who are the true greats? You may be surprised! You may know some of them personally. Let’s learn the basic ingredient of true greatness. Let’s look at what Jesus taught in Mark 9:30-37.


Who are the true greats? You may be surprised! You may know some of them personally. Purpose: Let’s learn the basic ingredient of true greatness. Plan: Let’s look at what Jesus taught in Mark 9:30-37.


Mark 9:30-31 “Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. 31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, ‘The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.’ ”

Into the hands of men (?????p??, anthrópos), which is also a generic term for mankind. In other words, perhaps more completely understood, Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the whole human race. What prophecy did this fulfill?

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. … 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:6, 12)

Isaiah’s prophecy teaches us who the true Messiah is.

True Greatness

Mark 9:32-35 “32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him. 33 Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, ‘What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?’ 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ “

How often do we compete to be seen as the greatest? How often do we turn conversations around to be about us? They did, but Jesus talked about giving himself.

Mark 9:36 “Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,”

Many people stifle children at church, or send them out during the main sermon so they will not disturb it. Jesus never did that. He welcomed children, noise and all and taught us to receive children, not banish them.

Mark 9:37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Here Jesus uses receiving four times. Children teach us humility. Worldly so-called “greats” can be demanding and arrogant. Yet, those who serve are true greats. Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NASB) The disciples thought about personal glory, missing the point of the cross. In Aramaic, child and servant are the same word. True greatness is giving, self-sacrifice, service.

Our Neighborhood

A truly great person is a missionary who leaves family and country to serve a people and language not his own. He puts his life on the line in a culture hostile to Christianity. He brings many children to glory because He willingly gave up his life at home.

A truly great person is a father who may work at a job he hates because he loves those at home, who gives himself in self-sacrifice to one woman and avoids anything that might ruin that marriage, who spends time with his family as his most important people on earth.

A truly great person is a mother who gives life to a child that many may not want, spends 20 years putting on diapers, feeding, clothing and educating that child in life’s important basics, then spends the rest of her life praying for and thinking about her child every day.

A truly great person is a single, who because they have the freedom and time may dedicate themselves to military, civil or other service to humanity. This truly great person is loyal to God and country and is ready at a moment’s notice to defend us against all enemies.

A truly great person is a police officer who takes no bribe and shows no bigotry or favoritism. A great person is a nurse who cleans up after grumpy patients with a smile. A great person is a teacher who instructs our children faithfully even when they are too tired.

Most of history is written by bullies, not the brave soldiers who defended us against them. Yet, those mostly anonymous soldiers have a legacy of pure self-sacrifice and a great reward in heaven. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

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