What does it mean to be great? What does true greatness look like? For one mom in Matthew’s Gospel, the answer was pretty simple. Greatness for her was one of her sons sitting on the right side of Jesus in his kingdom, and the other sitting on his left. She knew Jesus was the King of a new kingdom, and greatness must be found in the seats of power beside him; so that’s where she asked for her boys to sit. For in that place, they would be great.
In light of this request for greatness, Jesus defines true greatness as self-sacrifice towards others, rather than self-promotion and power. Here are his words, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Their cultural version of greatness (and ours) meant being the boss and having others serve you for the sake of your well being. But Jesus defines Kingdom greatness as just the opposite. Instead of seeking to boss, greatness seeks to serve. Instead of seeking your well being, greatness seeks the well being of those around you. This is true greatness, and this is exactly what the greatest One who ever lived did. Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and that meant bleeding on a cross to serve you and me.
Therefore go and be great, and do so for the sake of someone else.