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

Mark 10:35-40,

"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

baptized with?

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



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.

Matthew 16:24-25,

"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."



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

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Talk about it...

Rev. Robert Cruz

commented on Sep 22, 2006

excellent... thanks for sharing. I will use it this Sunday. God bless you!

Jon Mcclarnon

commented on Jul 24, 2008

Dude, are you sure you heard your kids listening to Nelly - while you were there? You might want to listen a little more closely.

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