Disciples Arguing About Who is The Greatest

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake; I … More


It seems that whenever Jesus talked about His death, it brought out some spiritual flaws in the lives of the disciples. In the present passage, we see them arguing with one another about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom.

Leaving the north country Jesus and His disciples passed through Galilee on their way to Jerusalem. His public ministry in Galilee was ended and from now on He was concentrating on a private ministry with His disciples (vv. 30-32). When they arrived in Capernaum, Jesus asked, “What were you talking about on the way” (v. 33)? There was an embarrassed silence and a sense of shame (vv. 34-35). He had been talking about the cross and giving Himself for the sins of the world and they were talking about self-glory and self-greatness. 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 selfishness.

His central message was to prepare them for His coming death and resurrection, but their spiritual ears were dull of hearing. Instead they had been arguing along the way as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom they expected him to set up when they arrived in Jerusalem. Jesus taught the disciples to welcome children (vv. 36-37). This was a new approach in a society where children were usually regarded as second class citizens. He told them that, “If any man desired to be first, the same shall be last and servant of all.” In other words, the marks of true greatness are humility and service. Truly great men of God have not used society to further their own personal ambitions, but those who have used their personal gifts and talents to serve society. Many problems would be solved if men lived for what they could do for others and not for what they could get for themselves.


I should not in my selfishness be trying to receive special recognition, but always seeking ways I can serve people and bring glory and honor to my wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:30-37 (English Standard Version)

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