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Summary: An Exposition of Mark 9:30-37

When I Get Big, I Want to Be Little

Mark 9:30-37

Children are born dreamers. You can watch them act out their dreams when they play and pretend. With a few plastic army men they wage earth-shaking battles; with a baby doll they practice being gentle, caring mothers. The sky is the limit in who they can be, or what they can do. Adults will sometimes ask a child to pinpoint their dreams for the future when they ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or as the kids from south GA used to ask, “What do you want to be when you get big?” The response runs something like this: When I get big, I want to be …a policeman…a nurse…a soldier…a mommy…a cowboy…an astronaut…a singer…a basketball player…president of the United States.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting to flashback to your childhood days and recount what you dreamed of being “when you get big.” You might still be dreaming of what you will be when you get big- when you get enough money, or get the rights breaks, or finish your education, or whenever you finally “arrive”. You might think of it this way: When I get big…I want to get married…I want to get my driver’s license…I want to live out on my own…I want a higher paying job… I want to have kids… I want to own a Mercedes…I want to make a million dollars…I want to own my own home… I want to be my own boss…I want to retire and enjoy life.” You fill in the blank. “When I get big, I want to…”

There is nothing wrong with dreaming, even after you become an adult. God gives you some dreams to spur you on to become what He wants us to be. But when you dream, Jesus tells us that if you really want to dream big, then you’ve got to think small. One of the highest priorities in Jesus’ teaching is that even as you mature, you still need to keep a childlike heart that is willing to learn from Him, serve one another, and be at peace with one another. You could say Jesus wants you to be able to say with all of your heart, “When I get big, I want to be little.” Let’s listen in on His explanation of what that means in Mark 9:30-37.


In chapter 9, Jesus’ public teaching ministry ends. He will spend most of the rest of His time privately instructing His disciples. Unfortunately, these 12 men, like you and I, sometimes have a hard time understanding their Teacher. You and I should pay close attention to the lesson of these verses: you will never get big until you are small enough to learn from Jesus.

a. Jesus wants to teach us. (v. 30-31) As Jesus and His followers pass through Galilee to get back to headquarters at Capernaum. Jesus is trying to avoid publicity because He wants some private time of instruction for His men. For the 3rd time in Mark, Jesus reminds them of He is going to be murdered, but that He will come back to life. The new fact He reveals is that He will be betrayed into the hands of his killers.

They need to know this, so they will understand later God is in control of these events; what happens to Jesus is part of God’s plan to save the world. Jesus wants them prepared, just as His lessons for you will help prepare you for what happens in your life. The danger is that like these dull disciples,

b. If you are too big, you will miss the lesson. (v. 32) They do not understand what Jesus is talking about. All their lives they are taught the Messiah would come as a conquering King, not a dying Savior. It doesn’t make sense. The sensible thing to do if you don’t understand is to ask a question, right? These confused men keep quiet. Maybe they are scared to ask because of Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in Mark 8:33. Maybe they are frightened He may really be serious about dying. They are too big to learn; if they really realized their need to know, they would ask in spite of their fears. Their solution: ignore the lesson, and maybe the Teacher will go on to something else. This is not my dream, so I’ll just forget it. They had not become small enough to listen and learn from their Teacher. Have you learned this lesson?

c. You have to grow small enough to learn from Jesus. When I was 18, I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school. I couldn’t wait to leave home and follow my dreams, without the pesky interference from my parents or teachers. I had learned enough lessons; I was an grown; I was big now, with big dreams and big plans to live like I wanted to live. I knew it all.

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