What Does it Mean to Be Great in God’s Kingdom?

Mark 9:33-37 – Matthew 18:1-6

Before we look at what Jesus has to say about greatness, lets take a look at this argument the disciples had just had.

Jesus had just warned his disciples again that he would die and rise again. The disciples knew that they were going to Jerusalem, and although they didn’t know what exactly would happen, they probably thought that Jesus was about to set up his Kingdom.

The transfiguration is also in recent history. Jesus had only taken three disciples up on the mountain with him.

It is unfortunate that this argument took place, especially when it did, but we are fortunate that Jesus used this opportunity to teach his disciples and us.

Reject Self Promotion

Jesus in outlining the path to greatness begins with service. A self promoting attitude will guarantee that you won’t have a place of importance in the kingdom of God. (In fact it is much more serious than that.)

Matthew 18:3-6 – For disciples thinking about crowns and scepters need an “about face.” There is no point in arguing about your place in heaven if you aren’t even qualified to enter the kingdom.

We must reject the spirit of self promotion. It can show up in many ways.

  • Daydreaming about impressing people.
  • Do we do better/worse than others?
  • Comparison with others.

There are many manifestations of this spirit that the disciples were struggling with. Each of them get in the way of what Jesus wants to do with us.

Pursue a Child Like Humility

Mark 10:13-16 – Jesus was indignant that the disciples were turning the children away.

What does it mean to become like a child in the Kingdom of God?

  • Children are humble because they are dependent on others and are very aware of that. They are quick to acknowledge and ask for help.
  • Children don’t care about rank. We like to think that people need us, and that we know more thank others and are ranked “more highly” than others.

Why does this make us great in the kingdom of heaven? It is because we empty ourselves and admit our need and complete reliance on God.

Serve as Christ Served

Mark 9:37 – Take time for your brother. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Watch out for each other.

Here is why we should serve our brothers and sisters as Jesus did. They represent Christ. When we welcome them in Jesus name, or mistreat them… we are welcoming or mistreating Christ.

When we serve each other because of our love of Christ, we are serving Christ. Instead of thinking “how can I be better than my brother,” we need to be thinking, “how can I better serve my brother?”

Philippians 2:1-11 – Our service to our brothers and sisters should be humble, genuine and loving.


We all want to be effective in God’s Kingdom. We want to be instruments that God can use.

The only way we can do that is to be humble, reject self and depend on God, and focus on Christ’s pattern and serve as he would.