Not so with you, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.
Matthew 20:26

In the midst of the disciples arguing over who is the greatest, Jesus instructs them about a principle of the kingdom of God. And what does he tell them?

Does he tell them not to be great?

No, he doesn’t. You see, Jesus is affirming a desire that the disciples and all of us have- the desire to be great. But this greatness is different than what the world, or as the disciples in this passage would think of it.

First, the greatness is different in its audience. The disciples were bickering over who would be great over each other, Jesus is teaching them how to be great in God’s eyes. Only one of those opinions will matter, and it is certainly not the former.

Secondly, he instructs them that the pathway to greatness is different. The disciples thought that greatness is achieved by trumping and rising above each other (as much of the world thinks). Jesus, on the other hand, teaches them that greatness is achieved by going lower and serving one another.

And so the pathway to greatness is really the pathway of humility. The lower you get the higher you rise. The more you serve the more you are exalted. The less great you are in the eyes of men, the higher you are in the eyes of God.

Go and be great.