You Were Made for Greatness - Radical
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You Were Made for Greatness

Do you want to be “great”? Before you answer that question, it’s important to get the right definition of greatness. Sadly, the world’s definition of greatness is often polar opposite to the Bible’s definition of greatness. In this message from Mark 9:30–37, David Platt points us to Jesus’ interaction with his disciples about what true greatness looks like. With the cross before him, Jesus taught and demonstrated for us that true greatness isn’t self-serving and it doesn’t seek to gain the approval of others. Instead, it finds its satisfaction in God and is therefore freed up to serve God and others. 

What does this passage say?

  1. Read Mark 9:30–37 aloud as a group and take some time to let group members share observations about them.  Don’t move into interpretation or application, simply share what you observe.
    • What do you see in Mark 9:30–32?
    • What do you observe about Jesus and about His disciples in Mark 9:33–34?
    • What are the key components of Jesus’ definition of greatness in Mark 9:35-37?
    • Summarize Mark 9:30–37 in your own words.

What does this passage mean?

  1. Jesus predicts His delivery, death, and resurrection. (Mark 9:30–32)
    • Why would Jesus teach His disciples privately in this passage, and what could that imply to us?
    • What is significant about the fact that the Son of Man would be delivered into the hands of men? (Isaiah 53:6, 11; Romans 3:25, 4:25, 8:32; Acts 4:28; John 3:16)
    • Why didn’t the disciples understand and why not ask Jesus what He meant? (Matthew 17:9, 23)
  2. Jesus’ disciples argue about greatness. (Mark 9:33–34)
    • Jesus is all-knowing. Why did He ask His disciples what they were discussing?
    • What do you imagine were the disciples’ key focus and points about their own greatness?
  3. Jesus redefines greatness for all time. (Mark 9:35–37)
    • What kind of service does Jesus reference in verse 35?  (Matthew 23:8–11; Mark 10:31, 43–44; Luke 22:24–27; John 13:1–17) What is a key component of gospel service?
    • The words child and servant are the same in Aramaic – What does Jesus’ demonstration with the child illustrate? How is humility a key attribute of greatness?

How can we apply this passage to our lives?

  1. Sin corrupts our quest for greatness.
    • Where are you comparing yourself to others for self-satisfaction and self-gratification?
    • How does your pride appear and where do you seek acclaim from others
    • How and where are you pursuing worldly greatness? And, what must you do to stop pursuing worldly greatness? (Superiority above others + Acclaim from others)
  2.  Jesus redefines our quest for greatness.
    • Greatness is selfless service to others. Where do/can you practice selfless service?
    • How do/can you serve the seemingly unimportant, insignificant people around you?
    • How does your selfless service to others demonstrate your desire for God and satisfaction with Him? (Matthew 6:1–4)
    • What must you do to pursue true greatness? Recognize that Christ Himself makes you able to pursue biblical greatness. (Lowly service on earth + glory to God in heaven)

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
– Mark 9:30–37

God Wants us to be Truly Great

  • See divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
    • God delivers His Son over to die.
    • God was in sovereign, ultimate control over the death of Jesus, and people were responsible.
  • See divine love and human sinfulness.
    • God loves us so much that He came to humanity – became man in Jesus – to be killed by the men and women He came to save.
    • Jesus lived a sinless life, suffered the penalty we deserve on the cross, and rose from the dead to eternal life so that we could trust Him as Lord and Savior of our lives so that our sins can be forgiven and we can have a relationship with God and eternal life with Him.

The Quest for Greatness

  • Sin corrupts our quest for greatness.
    • We compare ourselves with others.
    • We crave approval from others.
    • Worldly greatness = Superiority above others + acclaim from others.
  • Jesus redefines our quest for greatness.
    • Be selfless in serving others.
    • Be satisfied with having God.
    • True greatness = Lowly service on earth + glory to God in heaven.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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