Sermon #57                                                     Series: Matthew

            Title:                “Whosoever Will Be Great Among You”

            Text:                Matthew 20:24-28

            Reading:        Bob Poncer – Bobbie Estes

            Subject:          The Path to Greatness in The Kingdom of God

            Date:               Tuesday Evening - September 19, 1995

            Tape #            R-76




            The title of my message tonight is found in verse 2.  “Whosoever Will Be Great Among You” I want to show you the path to greatness in the kingdom of God.  Of the very outset, I want to understand that true greatness is exactly the opposite of what the world calls greatness.  The world asses greatness by the number of people under a man’s control, how many are at his beck and call, or how much money he has in the bank, how much property is listed under his name is how many titles and degrees he has appended to his name or how many committees and boards he is a member of, or how much name recognition he has. But in the assessment of the Lord Jesus Christ all those things are totally irrelevant. Read Matthew 20:24-28 with me, and learn what true greatness is.


            The simple message of this clear, instructive passage of Holy Scripture needs little explanation, but is in great need of emulation by all who claim to be followers of Christ. The message of these verses is as plain as the nose on your face.


Proposition: The path to greatness in the kingdom of God is humble service to the people of God.


Divisions: With those things in mind, I want to show you four things in this text:


1.       A Great Problem – (v. 24).

2.       A Great Precept – (vv. 25-27).

3.       A Great Pattern – (v. 28).

4.       A Great Propitiation – (v. 28).


I.  Here is A Great Problem. (v. 24).


            The greatest problem we have is pride. Pride is the root of all sin, the cause of all strife, and the most destructive of all passions. Even among true believers, yea, even among the apostles of our Lord, pride, jealousy, and the love of pre-eminence is a horrible passion that must constantly be held in check.


            Those disciples were not upset with James and John because they sought pre-eminence, but because they sought pre-eminence above them! Like these disciples, we are all very proud and love pre-eminence. We love power, pre-eminence, prestige, property, and position. We love these things, seek them, and crave them because we are all very proud. Pride is the oldest of all sins and the most destructive.



What separates and distinguishes men from one another according to race, rank, riches, and recognition? Pride!  What separates families? Pride! What is the cause of war? Pride! Seldom ever do men go to war for principle.  We go to war over property and invent principles to justify our stupid pride.



“Pride is a vice that cleaveth so fast unto the hearts of men, that if we were to strip ourselves of all faults one by one, we should undoubtedly find it the very last and hardest to put off.” Thomas Hooker



Of all things named in the Bible that God hates, pride is number one (Pro. 6:17).


II.  Here is A Great Precept – (vv. 25-27).


            Listen to me now, and I will tell you what those verses teach. Are you listening? A life of self-denying kindness and service to others is the secret of true greatness.


            The standard of the world and the standard of our Lord are exact opposites. In the kingdom of God a person is considered great who devotes himself to and promotes the temporal and the spiritual welfare of others.


            “True greatness consists, not in receiving, but in giving. – not in selfish absorption of good things, but in imparting good to others, - not in being served, but in serving, - not in sitting still and being ministered to but in going about and ministering to others.” J.C. Ryle.


A.  If you truly desire greatness in the kingdom of God, find the place where you are needed and be a minister.


            The word is translated “minister” is the word that is elsewhere translated “deacon.” It refers to a person who does menial labor, house cleaning, serving tables, gardening, etc. It is the least recognized, but given the most needed and certainly the most basic service.


B.  If you really want to be great, if you want to be chief, then make yourself a servant, a slave to the church and kingdom of God.


            The word “servant” in verse 27 means “slave.” A servant does not have much. But a slave has nothing. But this slavery is altogether voluntary!


            The cost of true greatness is humble, self-denying, sacrificial service. It is service rendered to others for Christ’s sake by men and women who have learned that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).


            God, help us to shun the greatness of this world and seek this true greatness. The angels of God see for more greatness in the work of a Cody Groover, a Tom Harding, and a Bill Clark.  Then in the works of bankers, lawyers, doctors, and presidents – and we should too.


            In his book, A Service Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law writes, “Let every day be a day of humility; condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow creatures, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, compassionate their distress, receive their friendship, overlook their unkindness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowest offices of the lowest of mankind.”


III.  Here is A Great Pattern – (v. 28).


            If you want an example to follow look no lower than to the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He here shows us what true greatness is by his own example. This is our Saviors message to us – “Strive to be like me!”


A.  The Servant of God (Phil. 1:1-9).


B.  The Servant of Men (John 13:4-5, 12-17).


Lord, help me to live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way

That even when I kneel to pray

My prayer shall be for others.


Help me in all the work I do

To ever be sincere and true,

And know that all I’d do for You

Must needs be done for others.


Savior, help me in all I do

To magnify and copy You.

That I may ever live like You,

Help me to live for others.


IV.  Here is A Great Propitiation (v. 28).


            Not only has the Son of God given us a noble example of self-denying love and service by his obedience to God for us, he has, by the sacrifice of himself ransomed us…


A.      From The Slavery of Sin. (Rom. 6:18).

B.      From The Curse and Condemnation of God’s Holy Law (Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13).

C.      Into The Glorious Liberty of The Son of God Tit. 2:19).


1.  The ransom price was the precious blood of Christ – Ephesians 1:7



2.  The ransom price was paid for “many,” and paid for them in particular, as the objects of his special love. The many…


·        Ordained to Eternal Life (Acts 13:48).


Application:  I Corinthians 6:19, 20


1.       If you would live for Christ, live for others; if you would serve Christ, serve one another.

2.       Make Christ himself your rule of life.

3.       Here’s your motive – “You are not your own, You are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”