Message:"Do you want to be great?"

Message May 23, 2021 Subject: "Do you want to be great?”

Scripture:  (NIV)
43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.


When you were in elementary school, your teacher probably asked you, "What kind of person do you want to be in the future?” How did you answer? I don't remember the exact words, but I think I said, "I want to be a great person.”


So what does it mean to be great? According to the dictionary, it means:

To be superior to the norm.

  1. having a high social position or status.
  2. excellent as a human being.


There are different definitions of "great person" in USA and Japan.

In Japan, "knowledgeable people who know a lot of things" are considered great and respected.

On the other hand, in the U.S., "a person who has thoroughly mastered one thing, even if it is a narrow area," or "a professional in that field" is perceived as a "great person" who is respected by society.


Let’s examine what the Bible has to say.

To give you a little more background to Jesus’ statement, let’s look at Mark 10:35-37.

Mark 10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask. 

Mark 10:36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

Mark 10:37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

Two of them ignored the other disciples and asked Him to give them a higher position soon after Jesus had told the disciples that He was going to be crucified.

Don't you think that their behavior was nothing short of disgusting?

Needless to say, the other disciples were angry when they heard this.


In Galilee, where Jesus and his disciples lived, there was a strong relationship based on blood, and people helped and supported each other.

However, there may have been times when exclusiveness also came into play.


The Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims and creates is sure to be a free and equal world.

It is a world where people help each other and live together in harmony, rather than fighting and competing with each other.

I envision a world where each individual is valued.

What do you envision?


Jesus' response is as follows.

Mark 10:43-44 “No so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

This is how Jesus lived his life.

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


A German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, "Life Together," wrote about what it means to serve.

 1) Being thoughtful with your words.

 2) Thinking of yourself as worthless.

 3) Listening to the words of others.

 4) Actively helping others.

 5) Bearing the burdens of others.

 6) Testifying and sharing God’s word.


How do you feel about this?

1) A difficult task. Especially when it comes to asserting our opinions, I tend to be short-tempered and argumentative which is a characteristic that is not well accepted in Japanese society.

2) When I make a mistake, I sometimes think, "Insignificant = I'm useless! However I am not so humble every time.

3) I think I'm trying as hard as I can, but in terms of the ratio, I'm definitely speaking more instead of listening to others. I'd like to be able to listen better.

4) It is not hard for me because I enjoy helping others.

My issue is when people are unappreciative or unresponsive, I end up complaining.

5) Carrying a heavy burden is literally a very hard thing to do. I can sympathize and empathize with others to a certain extent, but to bear another’s burden is very difficult.

6) I want to share God’s word to others regardless of my position as a pastor.

When I reflect upon Bonhoeffer’s list, I find that I am not able to serve others well and that if Jesus was here, he would be embarrassed especially with my position as a pastor.

In order to realize the will of Jesus, I have to stop thinking,

“I can't do this or I can't do that" because it will not solve anything.

Instead, I should think "How can I make others happy? How can I take care of others?”

Instead of praying for myself and my family, let's pray for others as well.

If it was you, how would you go about serving the will of God?