Summary: This is a message directed to young people about success and salvation.
"What Does It Take To Be #1?"
Text: Mark 9:35
The title for this sermon today came from a
song I heard my children listening to on the
radio. It is by someone called Nellie, and it
carries the title listed above. As I overheard
some of the lyrics, I noticed that it implied
that no one should want to be anything but #1.
Number 2 was not going to be a winner, or succ-
essful, and Number 3 would be forgotten and never
Jesus’ disciples seemed to have a problem
with wanting to be #1. We haven’t escaped that
egotism in our modern day either, even within
the ranks of the church. Ministers politic for
the #1 church in the #1 location with all the
#1 perks and recognition. Within the church
no one seems to want to rush to be the janitor,
or the one to do all the hard work on whatever
committee. Instead, the place of recognition
and honor is sought. We want only the best,
and we want it now.
Jesus, of course, understands what is in
the heart of man. He knows our egos and needs
and wants. He knew He had to try to teach His
followers that that was not His way. Listen to
"And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come
unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou
shouldest do for us whatsoever we desire.
And he said unto them, What would ye that I
should do for you?
They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may
sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on
thy left hand, in thy glory.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye
ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?
and be baptized with the baptism that I am
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said
unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that
I drink of; and with the baptism that I am bap-
tized withal shall ye be baptized.
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand
is not mine to give; but it shall be given to
them for whom it is prepared."
In Matthew’s account of this incident, it is the
Mother of Zebedee’s children who asked Jesus the
request to sit on His right and left hand in the
kingdom. (Matthew 20:20-23)
Now, Jesus had just told His disciples that He
was going to be beaten and crucified, yet they
were arguing about being #1. How cruel that was
of them to be thinking that way when the Saviour
was about to suffer for the sins of the world.
When He was arrested they all forsook Him and
fled. No one seemed to want to be #1 in following
Jesus to a cross of suffering. But, God’s way
is first the cross, then the crown, and no crown
without the cross.
So, in our chosen text, Jesus stressed to His
disciples that if anyone among them wanted to
be #1, then they should take last place, and
become a servant of everyone.
That completely devastates our ego. We want to
succeed and survive. It’s ingrained in our fallen
nature. So, what must we do to be #1?
I. First of all, IF YOU WANT TO BE #1, YOU’VE
GOT TO BE WILLING TO EXPERIENCE COMPLETE SELF-
Wow! What a requirement! It’s probably the
hardest thing we ever do in following Jesus,
to deny self and what self wants. We want what
we want, not what God wants in our fleshly
nature. That’s why we have to die daily to
self and selfishness, and let Jesus live in
and through us.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man
will come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake
shall find it."
II.Secondly, IF YOU WANT TO BE #1, YOU’VE GOT TO
BE WILLING TO TAKE LAST PLACE.
That rubs against our ego also. We don’t want
last place. We want recognition. We want 1st
place. Who cares about being #2, or #3?
In Luke 14:10 Jesus said-"But when thou art
bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room;
that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say
unto thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt
thou have worship in the presence of them that
sit at meat with thee."
Back in verse 8 Jesus warned "...sit not down
in the highest room;; lest a more honourable
man than thou be bidden of him; and verse 9-
And he that bade thee and him come and say