How would you define true greatness? What are the things that make a person great?
Do political powers, material wealth, achievements or virtuous deeds add merit to one’s greatness?
Today, we will be looking at a poem taken from the gospel of Mark 9:30-37 which was inspired by a sermon delivered by the senior pastor of my church, Rev. Andrew Cheah.
Who is the Greatest? (Mark 9:30-37)
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (16th Aug 2013)
Jesus and his disciples walked through Galilee
He didn't want others to know about their journey
For he needed to be away from the people
To teach, train and equip his clueless disciples
'The Son of Man is going to be delivered
To be killed by men, like a lamb to be slaughtered
And when he is killed, after three days he will rise
When this happens it should come as no surprise'
The message of his words they could not understand
But they did not want to appear like foolish men
So they refrained from asking Jesus to explain
His death and resurrection which had been ordained
So they reached Capernaum and settled in a house
Where Jesus asked them the reason behind their grouse
For they had argued with each other on the way
Regarding who was the greatest man of their day
They kept silent for they were ashamed to reveal
The motivations behind their arrogant zeal
So Jesus sat down and called the twelve together
He taught them to show true greatness to each other
He told them not to seek the glory that will pass
'If anyone would be first, he must be the last
He must be a servant of all' Jesus then took
A small child who gazed at them with a helpless look
'Whoever receives one such child so graciously
In my name, receives me and the One who sent me'
True greatness was shown by Jesus' death on the cross
Let us serve his church humbly no matter the cost
Points for Reflection:
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)
· Pride is at the heart of human’s sinfulness. At first reading, we might feel indignant at the disciples’ arrogant and childish argument about who was the greatest. But if we were to look into our hearts, examine our thoughts and actions, are we actually any better than them?
· In what ways have you been taking pride in your riches, intellect, talents or achievements? Do you seek the praises of men instead of God for your accomplishments? Are you often tempted to put others down and elevate yourself to gain a sense of superiority?
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
· Our secular culture sees greatness in political influence, affluence, achievements and moral uprightness. But Jesus sees greatness in a different light. True greatness is seen in a person who serves others with humility and without expecting any recognition in the name of Jesus Christ. Doing something in someone’s name means to do something on behalf of someone’s authority.
· Are you doing good deeds and serving God in your own name instead of Jesus’? Do you give all glory to your moral uprightness instead of God? When you are tempted to embody greatness in your fragile constitution, always remember this phrase in Latin – ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ (To God alone be the glory).
And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:36-37)
· Children in Jesus’ days were looked down on and were meant to be seen but not heard; unlike the children of our day whose rights are protected by the laws of our country and who are often pampered by their parents. But Jesus told his disciples not to look down on those who were considered lowly in the eyes of the world. They were to welcome and serve the lowly for the sake of Jesus Christ.
· Are you welcoming, serving and sharing the gospel with those who are considered lowly in the eyes of the world?
For he [Jesus] was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31)
· True and ultimate greatness is embodied in our Lord Jesus Christ through his humility and death on the cross for unworthy sinner like us.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
· Have you received Jesus Christ, the humble but powerful Servant King, as your Lord and Saviour? How could you be seeking to learn humility from Christ by serving his people?
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:6)
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)