Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 21st May 2024: True greatness

Disciples Humility Jesus Mark 9

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 9

Jesus teaching

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


The difference between Jesus and the disciples is never so great as in this little passage. He has set his face towards Jerusalem and the cross, while they are arguing about who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God, or we might say who will be his 'right-hand man'. Jesus had taken Peter, James and John up the Mountain of Transfiguration (Mark 9.1-8) where they heard the voice of God saying "This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!" Yet after this awe-inspiring experience they have given into earthly ambition, which they are ashamed of admitting to Jesus.

On their arrival back in Capernaum Jesus sits in the formal position of a Rabbi who is teaching, and carries out an "acted parable" to instruct his disciples. Taking a small child he shows that true greatness is not a matter of position or power but is present in the child-like qualities of innocence, trustfulness, humility, lack of prejudice, faith and the willingness to learn.

Today, all of us need to 'learn' all these qualities, but perhaps the one that sums them up is humility. The following quote is a favourite of mine. It's by Andrew Murray (1828-1917) who was a South African writer, teacher and Christian pastor:

  • “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”


we kneel before You broken and unsure.
We come to You for You alone understand
our faults and our mistakes.
We come to You to wait for Your still presence
to calm us and restore us.
Forgive us our sins both deliberate and unintentional,
and send us away renewed to do Your will.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to read this short blog on greatness:

Or listen to this:

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