Greatness in the Kingdom

How you see yourself is going to be revealed in how you relate to other people.

Ex: If you think you’re perfect, well then you’re going to have a tendency to compare your strengths to other people’s weaknesses.

Ex: If you think you’re a huge piece of trash, you’re going to have a tendency to let yourself be abused and belittled by the first group.

Most of us are both of these at different times in our lives. We end up bouncing back and forth.

There’s a lot of sin that starts in this area.

Gossip really tends to be this thing where without even realizing it we come to this place of “I can feel better about myself by belittling and attacking others."

A gossip by nature has a tendency to love conversation about how other people and other things stink

And that’s always an attempt to exalt themselves or make themselves feel better about themselves. It’s rooted in insecurity.

And then on the other side you have people who feel worthless and then end up making stupid decisions b/c they don ’t value themselves.


So what I want to do today is give you a lens to see yourself.

And actually I’m just gonna let Jesus do it, which is always a good idea.

Here’s the question: “What makes someone great?”

I can’t think of a question that drives people to either really good things or really horrific things that than this one.

4 People -- If you think of Saddam Hussein, Martin Luther King Jr, Osama Bin Laden, and Mother Teresa. What do those 4 people have in common? The answer is this: They all achieved greatness in their own particular goal.

They all wanted their life to matter. And their lives did matter. In very different ways. And you can see this desire in the disciples too.


Matthew 18:1-4

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. (Matthew 18:2)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)

Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. (Matthew 20:20)

“What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. (Matthew 20:22)

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. (Matthew 20:24)

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. (Matthew 20:25)

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, (Matthew 20:26)

and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— (Matthew 20:27)

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)


Here’s the story

The mom of James and John comes to Jesus and says “Will you make two sons greats in your kingdom.”

Now for us today, this seems like crazy request. But these guys though that Jesus was going to become this earthly king. And remember how much power these rulers had. They ruled with absolute authority. Have you ever thought of how crazy it is that Herod says ‘I want every child born under this age in this city slaughtered.’ And no one questions it, they just go do it. - So the disciples are thinking Jesus is going to have this power. And this mom is basically asking ‘Are you going to give my sons cabinet positions?’. Look at Jesus’s response:

I love this “You don’t know what you’re asking” - Which is true for most of us, we think we know all the things we need God to do in order to make us happy.

Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

Suffering. When Jesus talks about the cup he will drink, he’s talking about suffering. And of course these would and will drink from his cup, but they don’t realize that’s what Jesus is talking about here.

They says “Sure!” - But they have no idea what they’re pledging themselves too. - It’s pretty ironic really, I kinda imagine Jesus smiling on the inside here. James of course was the first of the 12 to be martyred, and John was boiled alive in oil, but survived, so they just exiled him. So they would drink from his cup, but they didn’t know it.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

So when the 10 heard this, they all got mad.

Now hopefully by now you’ve learned not to give the disciples too much credit at this point in the story. I don’t think they’re upset because they want to suffer too and Jesus isn’t offering that to them too. No, they’re upset because they didn’t ask first. That they just missed out on being rulers in god’s kingdom. They’re thinking ‘I shoulda brought MY mom!’

Jesus teachable moment:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.


Redefines greatness.

So Jesus comes and redefines greatness.

: Definition

GREATNESS : The quality of being unusually or comparatively better.

So compared to the next guy, you’re better.

LeBron James He’s a GREAT basketball player. He’s better at basketball than most people. Like we could all play him - like 100 players to 1 and we’d probably lose.

I was reading that he signed a 90 million dollar deal with Nike when he was a senior in high school. You think he was voted most likely to succeed in the yearbook. “LeBron James, most likely to succeed since he already has 90 million dollars as a high-schooler."

Great because he's better…

And because of that, he has an entourage of servants, people who just want to be around him hoping some of that greatness will rub off. They’ll carry his bag, clean his house, he doesn’t have to live at that level anymore, because he’s great.

Warren Buffet

Net worth is 76.1 billion. That puts him right between Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg.

And you might be thinking “Why did you leave the .1 on there. Who cares about the .1. Well in this case, the .1 is 100 million dollars.

I mean, he’s over 20 times richer than Donald Trump.

He got it all by investing. He’s better at investing than anyone else.

I’m assuming when you have 76 billion in the bank, you don’t clean your own house anymore. - I bet you don’t wash your own dog. I could be wrong. But when you’re that great, you spend more time being served than serving. You know what I mean?


Well Jesus comes and flips the whole thing upside down. He says “Greatness is not that you are so much better than everyone else that they serve you. Greatness is that you serve everyone else.”

Which is ridiculous.

So the lens that Jesus tells us to look through is not ‘How can I be better than that person?’ But instead ‘How can I help? How can I serve? How can I make much of what they’re doing?'

Basically it’s this: “I’m not here to be served, I’m here to serve."


And you might be thinking: “Well easy for you to say David, you work at a church, it’s very competitive out here in the real world.”

I’m not saying you don’t work hard, I’m not saying you don’t do your best, I’m saying you’re not competing with the person next to you.

And you’re not selling your soul for money and success. It’s a crappy trade.

  • We don’t trade our birthright for stew. - ESAU
  • We don’t sell our soul for silver. - JUDAS

Instead, we look through the lens of ‘How can I come here and serve?’ ‘How can I come here and support what other people are doing?’ ‘How can I come and help carry the load of someone else?'


Jesus says if you want to be great, if you want to be number one, here’s what that looks like. - You become the servant of everyone else.

If you’re thinking this looks nothing like the world you currently live in, you’re right!

Jordan & I - don't cook.

My wife and I don’t cook at home a lot. I don’t know why, we’re just busy, and tired, and would rather pick something up. So we’re recently become sick of the fast food around our house, so we’ve been trying to branch out some. And here’s my criteria, are you ready? I want to be able to get it and not have to get out of the car. That’s it. We’ve started getting Applebees, which if I’m being honest is, FINE. On my way to Applebees, I pass a number of restaurants that are better, but I like that with Applebees, I don’t have to get out of my car. And I know that I’m not alone. People love staying in their cars, that’s why they put TVs in there. The next thing is toilets. Build a toilet right into the seat. Pretty soon you’ll be able to go to the bathroom, eat dinner and watch your movie and you don’t even have to get out of the car.

We live in a world that says ‘Your comfort is incredibly important to me. Well Jesus comes and says ‘Your comfort is not important to me. If you want to be a part of what I’m doing, then you’re here to serve.’

Apologize - evangelical churches.

This is where I feel the need to apologize for evangelical christianity. Especially in America in 2017. So much of how we do church teaches you the exact opposite of this. It teaches you ‘This is all about you, and your comfort.'

And we get into this competition of trying to get everyone to come to OUR thing, and so we just think ‘What here is challenging? Could this message possibly make anyone feel like they have something to change in themselves? We wouldn’t want that! We want them to come in here and just feel good, and comfortable.'

And in the end, what that’s going to do for you, is just make you spiritually weak.

It’s going to create sad Christians that haven’t learned that it’s by dying that we live.

He’s flipping the world upside down.

Let’s look at the last verse:

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Here’s an amazing idea - You’re really small. Did you know that?

If you think about the universe. That we’re on this tiny planet, in this tiny solar system, and you keep zooming out and out and out.

You’re a tiny speck on a tiny speck.

Which makes it all the more incredible that the creator of the universe, the God of the entire thing comes and washes our feet.

If never read Bible - Straight through…

Which if you’ve never read the Bible, and you read it straight through, you’re not expecting this to happen. You’re thinking ‘Oh yeah, he’s about to kill everybody.’

You’re expecting this movie to turn into Braveheart. ‘Yup, any moment he’s gonna slap the blue face paint on.'

But he doesn’t. He comes and serves us, and cooks for us, and washes our feet, and cries with us, and eats with us.

And even when we kill him, certainly he’s coming with vengeance then, right? No, we murder him, and he comes in forgiveness still.


Philippians 2:1-4

Now let’s go to Philippians 2 with me and we’ll read Paul just marveling over Jesus Christ doing this.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, (Philippians 2:1)

then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (Philippians 2:3)

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:4)

So again, this is the lens that we’re to see the world: We value others above ourselves.

Now consider how different this is than the culture we live in. From a very early age, we’re trained to value ourselves above everything else.

Can you imagine how this would change our city? If there were Christians that actually thought this and lived like this?

  • Not only am I concerned with my own stuff, I’m concerned with your stuff too.
  • Not only am I concerned with my pain, I’m concerned with your pain too.
  • I’m not just thinking about how things impact ME, I’m considering how things impact YOU.

Ok, so how does this play out?

Well, it starts out small, and then gets bigger. It starts out at home.

For me, it’s with Jordan.

And then it moves to our parents, and our sisters and brothers, and nieces, and nephews. How might we serve them?

And then it moves out from there. My church family. How might I sacrifice myself for them? Am I selfishly watching out for myself or am I laying down my life for these people?

And it continues on - your coworkers, the barista at starbucks, these are people who have a soul, they’re a human being, they matter to God. And God has told you to lay down your life for them.

I’m not here to be served, I’m here to serve.

So we’re gonna get real practical here.

How does this play out in your home? In your family? What does it look like for you to lay down your life?

  • How does this play out in your church family? - In what way are you laying down your life?
  • How does this play out in your community? In what way are you laying down your life?

So we’re constantly living in this place of dying to ourselves, believing that that produces life in other people.

And that’s really hard.

When it’s raining outside, I don’t want the worst spot, I want the best spot!

But as Christians, we pull ourselves out of that and say ‘They’re more important than I am. God help me to see that and to live that.”


Prepare - Communion

What I want you to do is to get really good at saying this to yourself: “I’m not here to be served, I’m here to serve.”

This week, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to find a way for you to lay down your life for someone else.

How can you exit your own world for a time and enter into their world? What’s a small way that you can come and love someone selflessly?

As they pass communion

Spend a little bit of time thinking about the words of Jesus “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

  • Where are you doing good there?
  • Where do you need to grow?