Matthew 20:20-28 True Greatness

by | Nov 27, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

Regarding the kingdom of God, it has been said… “The way up is down”.
To be accurate, the way up is obedience to Jesus, and having a servant’s heart towards all.
Some may try to live the lowly life by their own power.
Self-directed lowliness is not what Jesus is talking about.
Jesus is also not talking about “living low” with a mind/heart for self-promotion.
Being the servant of others should not be motivated by a deep desire for exaltation.
Being a servant isn’t something someone does. It is something someone is.
Serving doesn’t make one a servant.
Gayle Erwin- “You know you’re a servant by how you act when you are treated like one.”
Also, “the way up” isn’t what we might imagine.
It’s not having prominence in front of people. It is living in obedience to God.

I. Man’s View Of Greatness

A. Unsympathetic To People’s Struggles Vs. 17-19

1. Jesus has just foretold them of His great suffering to come
2. They seem untouched by Jesus’ prediction, but move quickly to their plan
3. NOTE- They are interested in ruling, but not in serving, loving, or comforting
4. Man’s view of greatness is to “lord over” people V. 25

a. “lord it over”- katakurieuo- to bring under one’s power, to subdue
b. “exercise authority”- katexousiazo- to rule over another

B. Untouched By The Word Of God V. 16

1. Jesus had just taught about God’s perspective on rewards in the Kingdom
2. The first would be last, and the last first
3. These guys immediately ask to be first. They remembered Matthew 19:28
4. In their desire for greatness, these words probably passed right by them
5. They may have been just waiting for the right moment to make their request
6. Jesus revealed to them (to us) what would so happen so that:

a. They could prepare themselves
b. They might prepare to comfort others
c. Wouldn’t be confused/surprised emotionally, mentally, theologically

7. Instead, when Jesus’ predictions happened, the disciples are fled & forsook Him
8. What happened to wanting to be on His right & left? Wasn’t part of their plan

C. Willing To Use People To Aid Their Self Promotion V. 20
D. Ignorant Of What Godly Leadership Entails V. 22

1. Jesus had just described what He would have to go through
2. Would they be able to endure what He just said He would have to endure?
3. Ignorant Confidence- They were sure they could endure whatever would come
Why was this confidence ignorant? – They didn’t know what they were asking
4. NOTE- James would die a martyr’s death; John was exiled to the island Patmos
5. Self-Promotion has immediate self-gratification in mind V. 23

a. Their view of what they wanted was now, and less than God’s plan
b. They had heard 19:28, and thought of an immediate, earthly kingdom
c. God had so much more planned for them

6. NOTE- placement is God’s choice; having a servant’s heart is our choice

E. Is About Self Gratification

1. Guzik- Real ministry is done for the benefit of those ministered to, not for the benefit of the minister. Many people are in the ministry for what they can receive (materially or emotionally) from their people instead of for what they can give.
2. This is revealed through the fires of true ministry. Being ignored, not thanked, used, unappreciated, misunderstood, accused, mistreated.
3. It is then that someone discovers their motivation for ministry: God or self?

F. Self-Promotion Causes Schisms Among God’s People V. 24

1. Self promotion is always an irritant among God’s people
2. Promotion from the Lord isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s wonderful when God does it
3. Psalm 75:6, 7 For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. 7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.
4. Self promotion causes divisions

II. Jesus Teaches On Greatness V. 25-28

A. Greatness Comes From Obedience

1. Jesus always obeyed His Father. Turn to John 8:28, 29; 12:44-50; 10:11-18
2. This announcement by Jesus to the 12 was a result of the Father’s command
3. NOTE- Jesus never says that the Father loved Him because He was gifted
4. The Father was pleased with the Jesus not because of what Jesus was able to do
5. The Father was pleased By the Son’s obedience
6. Man measures greatness by gifting. God measures greatness by obedience

B. There Is A Good Desire For Greatness V. 26

1. Greatness- megas things esteemed highly for their importance
2. Servant- diakonos- from which we derive the term deacon
One who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master; the servant of a king; a servant, attendant, minister, a waiter, one who serves food and drink.
3. Slave- doulos- bondman, man of servile condition; one who gives himself up to another’s will; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
4. Greatness doesn’t come from just serving, but from being a servant (internally)

C. Jesus: Our Great Example

1. He could have used His gifts to receive; instead He gave
2. He could have done miracles a favors in order for self gain
3. He had the right to expect to be served by every person He encountered

a. Turn to John 1:1-3

4. Instead, driven by His great love for lost mankind, Jesus served
5. Driven by His great love for the lost, He gave His life
6. He gave His life for the undeserving, the uncaring, the uninterested, the accusing, the profane, the wicked, the confused, the rejecters, & His own killers

a. Life- Not just zoe, indicating a living creature. He did give that.
b. Psuche- soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections
All the psuche that Jesus had was given up in His service to the Father

7. Ransom- lutron- the price for redeeming, ransom; paid for slaves, captives; to liberate many from misery & the penalty of their sins (John 8:31-36; John 3:16-21)