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Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45

Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45


Series: The Gospel of Mark
Sermon: Christian Greatness and Superiority
Bible Passage: Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45

I. The predicament of the disciples:

1. Peter advised Jesus that they stayed back on the mountain (verse 9:5)
2. Disciple were unable to heal the boy at the bottom of the hill (verse 9:18)
3 .They were arguing (διαλογίζομαι) over greatness (verse 9:33)—most likely about leadership position

a. They were trying to leverage their relationship with Jesus for their personal benefit (9:34; 10:35-37)
b. They were near-sighted and self-focused
c. They suffered a sense of entitlement—James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask” (10:37)
d. Peter began to speak to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you!” (10:28)
e. They were not in sync with the way of the Cross

4. Aren’t we not different from the disciples?

II. Jesus teaches them what “greatness” means

1. Jesus suggests inverted pyramid model for greatness (inverted hierarchy) (verse 9:35)— “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
2. Jesus redefines “greatness”: it is not in places of position and authority, but in service to others/all (verse 9:37)

a. The word diakonas refers to “willing service” over obligation or being pretentious (verse 35, cf. John 12:2, Acts 2:2)
b. It refers to devotion filled willing service
c. In 10:44, Jesus uses the word doulos to teach about greatness
d. Greatness lies in their willingness to be “bond slaves” to others

3. Greatness is measured by service, not necessarily in position

III. Jesus illustrates greatness through an acted parable (verse 36-37)

1. He used a child (here, the child is not used as an illustration for humility)
2. Children are “little” and “insignificant” that the followers of Jesus must welcome and serve

a. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (verse 37)

3. The followers are not to become like children, but they are to welcome the little ones like Jesus did
4. Jesus’ followers must welcome in “Jesus’ Name” the weakest and humble members of the community—those who are hungry, thirsty, lonely, naked, sick, and imprisoned
5. This is Jesus’ way of greatness
6. Service to others is the primary way in which believers imitate and fulfill the mission of Jesus (cf. 10:43-45)—i.e., to give His life as a ransom for many
7. Mark 9:37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me”
8. Mark 10:45 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

IV. How does “greatness” look?

1. Absence of entitlement

a. Jesus did not say that I am entitled because I am the Messiah
b. When offered position and status, Jesus ignored them because He had long-sight
c. Power and positions can be detrimental to the ministry to which God has called you
d. Jesus sought to make others’ life better
e. Having fully known his identity, Jesus chose to be a Servant—it is an intellectual decision
f. Jesus teaches that positions of power and recognition must not become a hindrance to fulfil their ultimate call

2. Not being self-focused and near-sighted, being concerned for the weakest and humble members of the community, typified by the child

V. Where can one practice Jesus’ greatness?

1. At home (How may I serve you?)
2. At work (How may I serve you?)
3. At school (How may I serve you?)
4. At Crossroad Church (How may I serve you?)

Take Away:

Earnestly desire Jesus’ vision of greatness

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at