Mark 9:35 - Greatness

If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of
all. Mark 9:35 (KJV)

The dispute among the disciples as to which is the greatest evokes from
Jesus an instruction to abandon seeking a position of power or prestige.
[Cambridge Annotated SB]

The disciples (then and now) need to understand that greatness is found in
serving others and not in self-advancement. [Believer's SB]

Pride disrupts relationships between people. It also hinders the
relationship between people and God. When pride is cast aside for an
attitude of childlike humility, these relationships can stand. [Disciple SB]

PATHWAYS TO POWER: MARK 9:14-50; Servanthood (Mark 9:33-37); Greatness is
not to be found in self-exaltation, but in self-humbling. Spiritual
significance is not won by concern for oneself, but by concern for others.
It is only as we give that we receive God's praise. When Jesus told the
disciples to welcome the little children in His name, He illustrated the
nature of servanthood. [Victor Teacher's Commentary]

The humble act of receiving one child in Christ's name is a deed of true
greatness. It is this willingness to take the lowly position of service,
even to a child in arms, which is the mark of genuine stature; for to do so
is to render service to Christ and, through him, to the Father. This
involves the humbling of one's self as a little child. [Wycliffe Bible

     In their heart of hearts they knew they were wrong.  When he asked them
what they had been arguing about they had nothing to say. It was the
silence of shame. They had no defence. It is strange how a thing takes
its proper place and acquires its true character when it is set in the
eyes of Jesus. So long as they thought that Jesus was not listening and
that Jesus had not seen, the argument about who should be greatest
seemed fair enough, but when that argument had to be stated in the
presence of Jesus it was seen in all its unworthiness.
     If we took everything and set it in the sight of Jesus it would make
all the difference in the world. If of everything we did, we asked,
"Could I go on doing this if Jesus was watching me?"; if of everything
we said, we asked, "Could I go on talking like this if Jesus was
listening to me?" there would be many things which we would be saved
from doing and saying. And the fact of Christian belief is that there
is no "if" about it. All deeds are done, all words are spoken in his
presence. God keep us from the words and deeds which we would be
ashamed that he should hear and see.
     Jesus dealt with this very seriously. It says that he sat down and
called the Twelve to him. When a Rabbi was teaching as a Rabbi, as a
master teaches his scholars and disciples, when he was really making a
pronouncement, he sat to teach. Jesus deliberately took up the position
of a Rabbi teaching his pupils before he spoke. And then he told them
that if they sought for greatness in his Kingdom they must find it, not
by being first but by being last, not by being masters but by being
servants of all. It was not that Jesus abolished ambition. Rather he
recreated and sublimated ambition. For the ambition to rule he
substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done
for us he substituted the ambition to do things for others. . . .
     Every economic problem would be solved if men lived for what they could
do for others and not for what they could get for themselves. Every
political problem would be solved if the ambition of men was only to
serve the state and not to enhance their own prestige. The divisions
and disputes which tear the church asunder would for the most part
never occur if the only desire of its office-bearers and its members
was to serve it without caring what position they occupied. When Jesus
spoke of the supreme greatness and value of the man whose ambition was
to be a servant, he laid down one of the greatest practical truths in
the world. [Barclay Commentary]

There is something heart-breaking in the thought of Jesus going towards a
Cross and his disciples arguing about who would be greatest. [Barclay


Servant. Gr. diakonos, from which comes the English word "deacon" (see Phil.
1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8, 12). A diakonos is one who ministers to the needs or wants
of another and might be either a "slave" or a freeman, though the word
implies service rendered voluntarily. . . . In the NT diakonos is commonly
used of a "minister" of the gospel (see 1 Cor. 3:5; Eph. 3:7; 1 Thess. 3:2).
The kingdom of heaven is essentially a matter of rendering service to God
and to one's fellow men, not of receiving it from them. True love is
essentially a matter of giving love rather than of demanding it (see on
Matt. 5:43). He is greatest who loves God and his fellow men most and serves
them best. [SDA Commentary]

Here "servant" (diakonos) depicts one who attends to the needs of others
freely, not one in a servile position (as a doulos, a slave). Jesus did not
condemn the desire to improve one's position in life but He did teach that
greatness in His kingdom was not determined by status but by service (cf.
10:43-45). [Bible Knowledge Commentary]

In the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, "child" and "servant" are the same word.
True greatness is found, not in rank or possessions, but in character and
service (Phil. 2:1-13). [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]

The Lord sure knows how to get right to the heart of things!  It seems He's
trying to let us know that our purpose while on this earth is to bring honor
and glory to Him.  If that was the desire of our hearts, we would not be
concerned with being first.  What do you desire?  Do you strive to be the
best in your field?  The most noticed in your neighborhood?  The most talked
about at your church?  How often do you ask yourself, "How does what I am
doing bring honor to the Lord?"  None of us desire, in the natural, to be
last and to serve everyone else - but some will be doing just that some day.
 It depends on what our heart desires now!  Do something about it. [IN HIS