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January 31, 2016

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

Mark 10:35-45

Disciples are people with their eyes on God’s requirements, but their hope is in God’s resources.

In this series, Trail Markers, we have seen three marks of discipleship: glory/sacrifice, wrestling with our faith, and dependence on God. Today we consider our last mark of discipleship:  greatness.

Although we ourselves may have many views of what constitutes “greatness,” Jesus in Mark 10:35-45 explains God’s perspective of greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • The Request: James and John ask Jesus for greatness.

In an underhanded and misguided request, James and John ask to be seated on the right and left hand of Jesus in His glory (Mark 10:35-40). Yet it is still a request of faith, because they were willing to suffer to achieve that greatness.  Do we really believe in God’s kingdom enough to want greatness in it?

  • The Key: Greatness comes through humble service.

In Mark 10:41-42, Jesus says that in the world, the more power you exercise, the greater you are. God’s view is the complete reverse:  “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-45).  God sees greatness in humility and service; the more humble service, the greater He sees you as being.

Later, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 that God deliberately chooses the foolish, the weak, the humble (not the influential, the wise, the noble of birth) so that praise goes to Him.

We need to view our lives and our greatness, or lack thereof, not just in the way that those around us view them, but in the way God views them.

  • A Clarification:  Service is defined by our calling.

The key to greatness is humble service, but service is defined by our calling.  Jesus in Mark 10: 41-45 is not necessarily talking about your going and doing the most thankless and difficult task you can imagine for God. Although the calling of James and John was to suffering and martyrdom (Mark 10: 38-40), our specific calling as His disciples will be individualized to who He created us to be.  It’s about living the life God calls us to.

Service starts when you humbly serve in whatever role God calls you to play.  That’s what servants do:  whatever the master requires…one step at a time.  Greatness with God does not start with such worldly things as big dreams, power over others, or position in social strata. It starts by the disciple daily listening and following Jesus.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a disciple of Jesus, said:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say ‘here lived a great street-sweeper…who did his job well.’“

Are you seeing your greatness correctly or do you need to re-evaluate your situation from God’s perspective? Are you ready to serve right where you are now? Are you committed to do whatever Jesus calls you to do to achieve greatness in the Kingdom?