The Scriptorium

Desire Greatness

We are called to serve. Matthew 20.24-28

Matthew 20: Calvary in Sight (5)

Pray Psalm 27.4-6.
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Sing Psalm 27.4-6.
(Joanna: Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise)
One thing we request but to dwell with You, Lord,
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
no foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise!

Read Matthew 20.1-28; Meditate on verses 24-28.

1. Why were the ten disciples displeased?

2. What did Jesus teach them about greatness in the Kingdom?


The disciples were displeased with James and John. Why? Because they felt left out? Bypassed? Slighted? Or could it be that they thought such aspirations were unbecoming the followers of Christ? We don’t know, exactly, and Jesus didn’t rebuke them. He simply clarified a point He had been making since chapter 5.

It’s a good thing to want to be great in the Kingdom of God. We should all aspire to being effective rulers, with a large domain over which to exercise sound judgment in the Name of the Lord (Matt. 19.28-30). In Personal Mission Field terms, we should always seek and be ready to expand the reach of our ministry, as the Lord leads and gives opportunity.

But not to lord it over others; rather, to serve them. Greatness in the Kingdom is measured by service. Service is simply love in action, bringing the blessings of righteousness, peace, and joy to others at the point of their need. But how does one learn what service requires? Or develop a disposition of soul which inclines to service? Put another way, how does one come to be great in the Kingdom?

By learning, obeying, and teaching the Law of God (Matt. 5.17-19). When we master the Law of God – or we should say, when the Law of God masters us – our natural inclination will be to serve others. The Law equips us to love others, and that means doing for them what we would like someone to do for us (Matt. 7.12). The Law of God prepares us for this. It helps us to recognize unjust situations, opportunities for showing compassion, and specific ways to build others up in love.

James and John were right to want to be great in the Kingdom – seated at Jesus’ left and right hands! But they and the rest of the disciples and all of us need to understand that greatness is measured in terms of service, which issues from a heart and mind devoted to love, as taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Who teaches us God’s Law (Ezek. 36.26, 27).

1. Would you say that you aspire to greatness in the Kingdom of God? Why or why not?

2. What opportunities for serving others are you likely to have in the days to come? Are you ready to serve them?

3. How would you counsel a new believer to seek greatness in the Kingdom of God?

Do you see how everywhere Jesus encourages them by turning things upside down? He gives them what they desire but in ways they did not expect.
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 65.4

Lord, I want to be great in Your Kingdom! Help me today as I…

Pray Psalm 27.1-3, 7-14.
How will the Lord use you today to bring His goodness to light in your world? Pray specifically about opportunities to serve others that you expect to have today.

Sing Psalm 27.1-3, 7-14.
Psalm 27.1-3, 7-14 (Joanna: Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise)
Lord, You are our Light and our Savior most dear!
You guard us with might; therefore, whom shall we fear?
Though evil surround us, our enemies fall;
no harm shall confound us when on You we call.

Hear, Lord, when we cry and be gracious, we pray!
Lord, do not deny us Your favor this day!
Our help, our salvation, though others may fall,
preserve our good station when on You we call.

Lord, teach us; Lord, lead us because of our foes!
Hear, Lord, when we plead for release from their woes.
Had we not believed all Your goodness to see,
our heart sorely grieved and in turmoil would be.

Wait, wait on the Lord; persevere in His grace.
Hold fast to His Word; seek His radiant face.
Be strong, set your heart to abide in His Word;
His grace He imparts; therefore, wait on the Lord.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore