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Who is the Greatest?

In the Gospel According to Mark, we read of the disciples disputing among themselves about who of them would be the greatest. We can find this in Mark 9:33-34 which reads, "Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, 'What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?' 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34 NKJV).

This question of who is the greatest is something that people may ask on a regular basis. Perhaps we do so indirectly by comparing ourselves to others, trying to find out who has the best job, the most esteem, and so on. These are things that those in the world may do, but let us remember that our focus should not be on who among us is the greatest in a worldly sense.

Continuing in Mark 9, we find that those who are viewed as greatest in the eyes of Jesus would never be considered as such in the eyes of the world. See verse 35, "And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, 'If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.'" (Mark 9:35 NKJV). Those who are the greatest, those who are first, are those who serve. This is quite contrary to the world's view of greatness.

If we are first, then paradoxically, we will be last of all and servant of all. From a couple of other texts, we can learn other things concerning greatness. The first, is that we must be humble. We can see this in Matthew's account of the event, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:4 KJV). Being humble like a child, again, rejects the world's view of greatness.

Finally, in Luke's account, we are told explicitly that Jesus Himself was one who served, "But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth." (Luke 22:26-27). Lets follow the greatest one of all, and be a servant, just as He served.