Greatness

OPENING PRAYER

Thank You, Lord, for preparing a place for me in Your coming kingdom.

 

Read: MARK 10:32–45

32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

The Request of James and John
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Reflect: WHY DO YOU SERVE CHRIST? IS IT FOR THE BLESSINGS HE GIVES—OR TO BRING GLORY TO HIS NAME?

Amazed and afraid, Jesus’ followers are slow to keep up. (I can sympathize with that!) Jesus walks ahead, possibly avoiding distractions, but he is not a remote hero. As a good leader he includes his followers in understanding what is going to happen. God’s plan is amazing and sometimes frightening, but he shares it with us (Jer. 29:11).

We do not know what James and John were thinking when they made their request (37), but Jesus makes things clear: the kingdom’s values are opposite of what we call normal. Real greatness lies in humble, often unnoticed service (43). As we read yesterday, heavenly treasure comes from sharing with the poor (21). Our status is not about how long we have followed Christ but how we have served.
Following Jesus will take courage as we share his trials and persecution (38,39). For some, even today, this will mean torture and death. If we seek true greatness we must expect trials and persecution.

 

APPLY

Be honest before God: are there humble tasks of serving others that you avoid and hope someone else will do?

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, show me where You want me to serve in Your kingdom. Give me the strength to do what You ask of me.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider