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The law of greatness

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The Message of Jesus

3/15/03 and 3/16/03

Kingdom Laws-The Law of Greatness



We have been looking at the Message of Jesus on the weekends and the Life of Jesus on Wednesdays.

Last week we looked at The Law of Use/Faithfulness.


We want to continue looking at the things Jesus taught and how He turned the world right side up.




-Matthew 2 is a good back drop to this law.

-On the one hand we have “Herod the Great”. He was striving for power. He would kill any perceived threat to his power. He demonstrated that by killing the little boys when he was looking for the Messiah.

-He built great projects in Israel including the temple at the time of Jesus.

-When he died he ordered that many well known Jews be killed just to make sure there was mourning instead of rejoicing at his death.

-Into this atmosphere of selfish ambition and the drive for power and influence comes Jesus. Born in humble circumstances, He spends His whole life serving and giving.




Matthew 18

18     At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


-In order to follow Jesus effectively, we are going to have to be ruthless with our ego.

-Little kids don’t assign everyone a place and then work to improve their lot in life.

-Children were without rights or significance in the culture.

-Jesus is celebrating their weakness, defenselessness and humility.

-Children are utterly dependant. They can do nothing for themselves.

-Their lives depend on being taken care of by someone else.

-That is why the society gets furious when they see this innocence taken advantage of like the situation with this little girl taken out of her bedroom by this weirdo and subjected to who knows what.

-In order to enter the Kingdom you have to turn away from your own aggressive self seeking.

-A child is unable to advance their cause except by the help of another.

-Now let’s add to this one of the beatitudes.

Matthew 5

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


-Jesus was saying you are blessed when you aren’t independent.

-You are like a little child and you recognize you need for God’s grace.

-You are dependant on outside help to make it.

-Poor in spirit means to recognize your need.

-Your fitness is your unfitness. Your qualification is your unqualification.

Luke 18 gives a great example of this:

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about a himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


-Real security doesn’t depend on the proper order of circumstances. It isn’t a by-product of being “in control”. Real Security comes from giving up control and trusting yourself to God.

Mark 10

The Request of James and John

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.”

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

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

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 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. 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.”

-We know the classic example of this. Jesus got a towel and began to wash His disciple’s feet. Peter could imagine Jesus doing something so menial.

-In today’s culture that might be the equivalent of polishing someone’s shoes.

-You are demonstrating someone’s value by serving them.

-The law of greatness says the way up is down.

-The whole world is striving to be somebody.

EXAMPLE: In Scotland there were two brothers, one wanted to be rich and famous, the other wanted to serve the lord with their life. The one went on to be a well known African explorer and missionary. The other has on their tombstone, “The brother of David Livingstone”.

-Jesus said to humble yourself and sow your life as a seed to others and you will be great.



2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

but with humility comes wisdom.





18 Pride goes before destruction,

a haughty spirit before a fall.



4 Humility and the fear of the Lord

bring wealth and honor and life.



-Who likes to be around someone who is full of themselves?

-Jesus said the key to success is to serve.

-Humility is just addressing reality. God is God. You aren’t.

People are important. We should love them and serve them.

-The key to this law is that you have to see people’s value to serve them.

-If they are really important you don’t mind serving and caring for their needs.

Philippians 2

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature a God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature b of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.


-I believe this was an early church hymn.

-Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient.

-Because He humbled Himself, God raised Him up.

-Jesus is our perfect example.

-Serving is valuing others and giving your life for them.

-Amazingly: Jesus tied my success to how well others do around us.

-That isn’t just our family and closest friends but those He has placed around us.

Example: 2 Rooms with people with long spoons.


In one they couldn’t get the food to their mouths and they were starving. In the other they were eating great and healthy. The answer; in the second room they had learned to feed each other.


Jesus knew what He was talking about.

Use effectively what He has given you to serve others.

1 Peter 4

10 /Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. [4]/



-It is really a return to the garden and the same issue Adam wrestled with, DO I HAVE TO LOOK OUT FOR MY OWN INTERESTS OR CAN I TRUST GOD WITH THEM?


















[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version, Mt 18:1-4. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

 a Or to

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version, Lk 18:9-14. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version, Pr 11:2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

 a Or in the form of

 b Or the form

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version, 1 Pe 4:10-11. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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