Believing You’re Good Seeking Greatness and Being Unknown In Heaven

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses thirteen through thirty-four of the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the. Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16). “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was said at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22). “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:23-27). “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or b rethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold. Now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31). “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribesa; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” (mark 10:32-34). When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will find it beginning with those present during the days and generation of the Lord Jesus bringing young children unto him that he should touch them. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that when those present during these days brought unto Jesus young children that He should touch them the disciples would immediately rebuke those that brought them. Scripture is entirely unclear as to why the disciples would feel the need to rebuke those who brought the children unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Even as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth that the disciples would witness and observe those who brought the children unto Jesus and would not speak unto the little children themselves but unto those who brought the children. What makes this truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that Scripture not only doesn’t reveal why the disciples rebuked those who brought children unto the Lord Jesus but it also doesn’t reveal what the disciples would say and speak unto those who brought these children unto Jesus. Here we have those who would bring children unto the Lord Jesus that He should touch them—and perhaps not only touch them but also bless them—and the disciples felt the need to rebuke them. Pause for a moment and consider the incredible language that is found within this passage of Scripture for it reveals those who would bring children unto Jesus that He might touch them and bless them—perhaps as Jacob blessed his children with the blessing of the living God. As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding those who would bring children unto the Lord Jesus that He might touch them—and not only touch them but also that He might bless them. Upon seeing those who would bring these children unto the Lord Jesus the disciples would rebuke them—perhaps commanding them to take the children away and/or perhaps to command them to cease bringing the children unto the Master. Oh if there is one thing I can’t help but wonder when reading the words found within this passage of Scripture it’s that Scripture doesn’t reveal why the disciples felt the need to rebuke those who brought the children unto Jesus. There is absolutely no indication within this passage of Scripture that the disciples had a particular reason and/or were even justified in rebuking those who brought the children unto the Lord Jesus. What’s more is Scripture does not present us with any type of understanding as to what the disciples said and spoke unto those who brought the little children unto Jesus. This is something I can’t help but admit that I find absolutely astonishing when reading it for there is something to be said about the words and language contained within this passage. There is something truly captivating about that which is presented in this passage and how the disciples would rebuke those who brought little children unto the Lord Jesus. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the previous language that was used within this gospel narrative. What’s more is that we must not only consider the language that was used in this gospel narrative but also that which is found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke. I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which we find in this passage of Scripture we must needs understand the context surrounding it. While Scripture does not immediately reveal unto us the nature, the reason and the underlying purpose for the disciples rebuking those who brought the little children unto Jesus we can see Jesus’ use of children to teach a lesson unto His disciples. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without encountering and coming face to face with this powerful truth that Jesus would indeed use children to teach the disciples lessons in humility. What’s more is that not only would Jesus use little children to teach the disciples lessons in humility but He would also declare and profess unto them that unless they were converted and became as little children they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Oh there is something we must needs recognize when reading these words found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark for within it we are brought face to face with men and women—perhaps even their own parents—bringing children unto the Lord Jesus and His rebuking them. What’s more is that when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find that Jesus saw and observed their rebuking of those who brought the little children unto Him and He was much displeased with them. Not only this but in addition to the displeasure of the Lord Jesus at the disciples rebuking those who brought little children unto Him He would also command them to suffer the little children to come unto him and forbid them not. As if this weren’t enough the Lord Jesus would also declare that of these little children was the kingdom of God. Furthermore Jesus would declare that whosoever would not receive the kingdom of God as a little child they would not enter therein. It is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding little children and the lesson they can teach us. Have you ever stopped and been amazed at a child and their innocence—and not only their innocence but also their perspective on life? Have you ever found yourself in a place where a little child unsuspectingly and unknowingly has actually taught you something which you might not have otherwise learned and experienced within your life? I have to admit there is something truly captivating about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and brings us face to face with the powerful truth regarding the little children and how the Lord Jesus would indeed proclaim and speak concerning the little children how theirs was the kingdom of God. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would also declare that unless we receive the kingdom of God as a little child we would not even enter into the kingdom of God. The disciples would rebuke those who brought the little children unto Jesus and yet Jesus would command them to suffer the little children to come unto Him and to forbid them not for of such was the kingdom of heaven. In other words there was a strong and intrinsic link between the little children which were brought unto the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that we must needs understand that when we speak of the little children which were brought unto the Lord Jesus they would not come unto Him themselves. In order for these little children to come unto Jesus they would need to be brought unto Him by their parents or perhaps even by their grandparents. I am convinced we must needs recognize and understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture for more often than not we wouldn’t expect the little children to come unto the Lord Jesus without being brought unto Him by their parents or perhaps by those who were guardians and stewards over them. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder whether or not many of the children during those days would not speak with their parents and emphatically declare how they wanted to see Jesus. I can’t help but read the words found within this passage and not only see parents and guardians who sought to bring their children unto the Lord Jesus that he might touch them but also the little children themselves who desired to come unto the presence of the Lord Jesus. The more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding these little children who perhaps would not be able to come unto the Lord Jesus themselves and would need to be brought unto Him by others. Imagine being a little child during the days in which Jesus of Nazareth walked upon the earth and asking the parent or guardian if they could see the Lord Jesus. Imagine being a little child during those days and desiring to see the Lord Jesus and speaking unto the parent(s) asking them that they might go and see the Lord Jesus. There is something truly astonishing when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the wonderful and powerful truth of little children being brought unto the Lord Jesus by those who had stewardship and guardianship over them. It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to first and foremost call and draw your attention to the words which we see in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words found and presented within this passage for it calls and draws our attention—not only to the reality of little children being brought unto the Lord Jesus but also Jesus’ response and treatment of those children. There would be a number of little children who would be brought unto the Lord Jesus would not only invite them to come unto Him but would also encourage them to be brought unto Him into His presence. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the first and opening verse: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:1-9). “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:10-14). There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for at the very outset and beginning of it we find the disciples coming unto Jesus asking who it was who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This particular question is such which we must needs recognize and consider when seeking to understand the words and language found in the gospel narrative written by John Mark. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the disciples coming unto the Lord Jesus and asking Him a question that in all reality should not be asked period. There is something about this question which we must needs understand for it strikes at the very heart of a number of men and women within the kingdom of heaven—and not only within the kingdom of heaven but also within the church itself. The disciples would come unto the Lord Jesus asking Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and I have to admit there is a part of me that wonders what they expected Him to say in response to their question. When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus who was greatest in the. Kingdom of heaven I have to believe that they perhaps expected something entirely different from what He said and how He responded. Scripture is entirely unclear why the disciples asked the Lord Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven, however, within the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we discover that they would argue and dispute among themselves concerning which one of them was the greatest. Perhaps the disciples did not ask who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven but they would indeed ask who and which one of them was greatest—a question which we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture. The more I think about and consider this particular question concerning who was the greatest the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the three-fold danger and temptation found within our hearts and lives. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that there is a danger in thinking and believing one is great. Not only this but there is a tremendous danger surrounding those who not only think they are great but also think they are greater than others. As if this weren’t enough we must needs understand that there is still one step even further than this and that is those who would think they are greatest—perhaps within their local church and body of believes and even the kingdom of heaven. The question which the disciples asked the Lord Jesus is one which is rooted and steeped in pride and arrogance for if it is not checked and left to continue to fester and grow can eventually cause a whole host of issues within the hearts and minds of those who aren’t careful. There is something we must needs recognize and understand about the question the disciples asked the Lord Jesus for the question they asked Jesus called and drew their attention to what was perhaps their genuine and authentic interest and curiosity concerning who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The disciples would indeed ask the Lord Jesus—and not only would they ask the Lord Jesus but they would also find the need to ask Him—who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Oh I can’t help but wonder what the Lord Jesus thought when He heard their question and what He perceived and recognized and understood concerning the condition and nature of their hearts. If we want to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture we must needs turn and direct our attention back to two Old Testament prophetic books. There are two Old Testament prophetic books which call and draw our attention to the beginning of pride and arrogance which was found not on the earth but rather in heaven. It’s important for us to note that pride and arrogance do not have their root here within the earth but rather they have their root in heaven itself. The first prophetic book we must needs consider is that of which was written by the prophet Isaiah for it calls and draws our attention to the pride which was in the heart of Lucifer. The second prophetic book we must consider is that which was written by the prophet Ezekiel. It is in each of these prophetic books we are given a glimpse into the pride and arrogance which was found within the heart of Lucifer who was the anointed cherub in the midst of heaven. When we think of pride and arrogance—and not only pride and arrogance but also in desiring one to be exalted and elevated above their status and stature—we must needs carefully consider the narrative of Lucifer in heaven. It would be the example and account of Lucifer which calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding pride and arrogance which was found within his heart and which caused him to desire to be great in the kingdom of heaven—and not only this but to exalt and elevate his throne above the sides of the north and his desire to be as God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages beginning with the prophetic book of Isaiah: “And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou was made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased! The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecute, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee” (Isaiah 14:3-11). “How are thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust though with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities” (Isaiah 14:12-21). These were the words in the prophetic book of Isaiah which describe Lucifer who was the son of the morning and yet in whose heart was found pride and arrogance. It would this pride and arrogance which was in the heart and soul of Lucifer that would cause him to seek to exalt himself above his state and to exalt his throne above the stars of the heaven. Not only this but Lucifer actually thought within his heart that he could be like the most High God and that He would exalt himself to sit upon the sides of the north. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the pride and arrogance that if left unchecked can creep into our own hearts and souls and produce a world of danger in our lives. Having said this I find the need to call and invite you to consider the words which are found in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel beginning with the eleventh verse of the chapter: “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the arbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth: and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I wilt destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire form the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more” (Ezekiel 28: 11-19). The words which we find in these passages of Scripture must needs be understood—particularly and especially when you consider the words which we see in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark. It is true how in the tenth chapter of this same gospel we find little children being brought unto the Lord Jesus that He might touch and lay His hands upon them and how the disciples would rebuke the ones who brought them. As you read the words which are present in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find Jesus being sorely displeased with His disciples for rebuking those who brought the children unto Him and would command and instruct them to suffer the little children to come unto Him and to forbid them not for of such was the kingdom of heaven. Although it is indeed true we find Jesus declaring unto the disciples how little children were a powerful and personal example of the kingdom of heaven we must needs recognize and understand that in the previous chapter we find Jesus using the example of a child. What’s more is that within the ninth chapter of this gospel—not only do we find the disciples arguing and disputing among themselves who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven but we also find them rebuking and forbidding one who did not walk with them from casting out devils in the name of the Lord Jesus. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it shines a tremendous light on to the dangers and snares the disciples faced—even walking with and following the Lord Jesus. It would be walking with and following the Lord Jesus we find the disciples not only arguing and disputing among themselves as to who was the greatest but we also find them rebuking and forbidding one who cast out devils in the name of Jesus and yet did not walk with nor follow them. As if this weren’t enough we find the disciples also rebuking those who would bring the little children unto Jesus—this despite the fact that Scripture does not reveal why the disciples felt the need to rebuke such as brought the children unto Him. There is absolutely no indication as to why the disciples would rebuke those who brought the children unto the Lord Jesus nor even why the disciples would rebuke that one whom they saw casting out devils in the name of the Lord Jesus. With this being said, however, I am absolutely convinced that the answer to both of these is found in verses thirty-three through thirty-seven of the ninth chapter. If I am being honest as I read these passages of Scripture I can’t help but find the underlying issue within the hearts and souls of the disciples at the very heart of their rebuking the one whom they saw casting out devils as well as those who brought little children unto the Lord Jesus as being the pride and arrogance within their heart. What’s more is that I would not only say that the underlying trouble and temptation within their heart was not only pride and arrogance but it was also their desire and perhaps even their need to be great. As if this weren’t enough we must needs recognize and understand that the disciples didn’t ask the Lord who was “great” in the kingdom of heaven but rather who was “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven. Oh there is a vast difference between these two words and we must needs understand the questions which the disciples asked for their question struck at the very heart of that which would cause them to engage themselves in both actions we find within these two chapters. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words and language that is found within these chapters for what we find here is the disciples—directly on the heels of their disputing which among them was greatest—rebuking others. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that you almost get the strong sense that when the disciples rebuked that one who was casting out devils in the name of Jesus for not walking with them and when the disciples rebuked those who brought the little children unto them they might very well have done so from a place of pride and arrogance. We must needs recognize the incredible truth that is found in this passage of Scripture for within we find two different accounts of the disciples themselves rebuking others and doing so for various reasons. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the pride and arrogance that would have had to have been in the hearts of the disciples—not only for them to argue and dispute which among them should be the greatest but also to rebuke those who brought little children unto the Lord Jesus. Stop and think about what it would have taken for the disciples to actually rebuke those who brought little children unto the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that I can’t help but think about what it would have been like for the disciples to have rebuked one who was casting out devils in the name of the Lord Jesus and yet did not walk with or follow them. It is truly astonishing to read the words found in these passages of Scripture and find the disciples forbidding one from casting out devils in the name of the Lord Jesus simply because they did not walk with or follow them. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to each of these passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark. I will first draw your attention to the words which are found in verses thirty-three through thirty-seven of the ninth chapter before transitioning to the words which are found in the final verses of the ninth chapter as well as those words which are found in the tenth chapter. With this being said I would like to call your attention to the following words which we see in these passages of Scripture. Consider if you will the following passages found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark—not only concerning the pride and arrogance that would have been in the hearts of the disciples but how that pride was manifested in their rebuking and forbidding others based on their actions: “And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the w ay they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and be servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me” (Mark 9:33-37). We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage for within we find the Lord Jesus addressing that which He had perceived while traveling on the way to Capernaum. There is a great need to recognize and understand the words within this passage for Jesus would confront His disciples concerning that which they disputed along the way. Undoubtedly the Lord Jesus would have either heard the words which the disciples spoke one to another or He might have heard some of them being more vocal and outspoken concerning their being the greatest among the twelve disciples who walked with and followed Jesus. Imagine walking with and following the Lord Jesus with others and actually arguing and disputing with those you walk with who among you is the greatest. Imagine allowing yourself to be so utterly and completely consumed with and by pride and arrogance within your heart that you actually feel the need to argue with others whether or not you were the greatest. What’s more is that I would dare say this dispute wouldn’t merely be with each of the disciples casting their names in the proverbial bucket for being the greatest but also with each of them trying to explain how and why they deserved the title of “the greatest.” I am sitting here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I find myself being confronted with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the disciples disputing among themselves who was the greatest. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found within this passage of Scripture that each of the disciples undoubtedly cast their own name into the hat as being the greatest among them. What’s more is I would dare say that each of the disciples tried arguing and presenting their case for being the greatest among the twelve as they would perhaps recount how many devils they had cast out, or how they had perhaps prophesied, or perhaps even how many individuals they had healed. The problem with arguing and disputing whether or not you are the greatest is that by doing so you are forced to present your case and argument. Each of the twelve disciples would have presented their own case as to why they felt they deserved the title of being the greatest among the others. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the argument and dispute that would have to be made and engaged in for us to prove that we are the greatest. It is not simply enough for one to make the claim and statement that they are the greatest without offering some type of proof as to how and why they feel they are the greatest. This is something we have a great need to focus our attention on for if you are going to profess yourself to be the greatest you must of necessity and by virtue of your claim provide proof to support it. One cannot simply make the declaration they are the greatest without also providing subsequent proof of how and why they are the greatest. If there is one thing we must needs acknowledge when seeking to understand making the claim and argument that we are the greatest—or even that we are great—is that we must of necessity provide proof to support claim. Perhaps one of the most dangerous truths surrounding the claim that we are the greatest or that we are great is that by design of the statement and claim we are forced to be those who need to support and back up our claim. This is something we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and invites us into the place where we recognize our own deficiency in and of ourselves. Oh it is incredibly easy to argue and contend that we are great and even that we are the greatest, however, making such a claim and argument of necessity requires proof to support and substantiate our claim. We cannot make the statement and the claim that we are great and that we are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven without also at the same time providing some type of proof that we are the greatest. What’s more is that I can’t help but get the sense that there are indeed two specific examples found within the gospel narratives themselves about how and why men and women would indeed profess themselves to be great—and perhaps not only great but also the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Moreover I would dare say that there would be a third place found within this particular section of Scripture that would also stand to serve as means for one or more individuals to make the declaration and boast they are great—and not only great but also are the greatest. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but. Inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree. Bring forth good fruit. Every three that bringeth not forth good is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my. Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied. In thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23). “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers. Into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidom, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; despiseth. Him that sent me. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you: but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:1-18). In order to understand this reality all the more I am absolutely convinced we must also consider two distinct accounts which are found within the gospel narrative written by John Mark for within it we find Simon called Peter making a declaration unto the Lord Jesus—and not only Simon Peter making a declaration unto the Lord Jesus but also the apostle returning unto the Lord after He had given them power and authority to heal the sick, the cast out unclean spirits, to raise the dead, to cleanse the lepers and to preach the good news unto the poor. Having said this I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in this New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark beginning with the sixth chapter: “And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:30-31). “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But. Many that are first shall be last; and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31). These passages must be carefully considered for within them we find many coming to the Lord Jesus in the Last Days speaking of everything they had done within the earth. There would be those who would come into the presence of the Lord in the Last Day speaking of how they had cast out devils, how they had prophesied and how they had done many wonderful works in His name. What makes their boasts so incredibly fleeting and shallow is not only that Jesus would command them to depart from them but He would also declare that He never knew them and profess that He never knew them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding that which the disciples might have argued and contended concerning their being great—and not only great but also the greatest. The disciples were given power and authority against unclean spirits as well as to heal the sick, raise the dead and cleanse the lepers. The apostles would even return unto the Lord Jesus boasting and speaking of everything they had done and everything they had taught. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how the Lord Jesus seemed to completely and utterly ignored their claims and their boasts. Undoubtedly the disciples might have thought and perceived themselves to have done something great—and not only done something great but also be something great—because of those things which they accomplished. What we find within this passage of Scripture, however, is the Lord Jesus seemingly ignoring their report and inviting them to come away with Him and rest. After just professing unto the Lord Jesus everything they had done the Lord Jesus would not applaud their exploits but would rather invite them to come away with Him and rest. I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words presented in this passage of Scripture how there are times when we would like to brag and boast of all our “exploits” done and performed in the name of the Lord Jesus and yet that which we find the Lord Jesus doing is inviting us into a place of rest. There are times when we have spent so much time doing within and doing for the kingdom of heaven that we completely neglect and ignore the rest that is so incredibly vital for our spiritual health and vitality. The Lord Jesus did not comment on their exploits and as far as we can tell instead of commenting on their exploits and commending them for what they had done He would call and invite them into a place of rest. It’s as if Jesus knew something they didn’t know which was how in that moment the single greatest thing they needed within themselves was to rest. It was indeed true they had done many exploits in the name of the Lord Jesus and yet that which they were completely and utterly missing was the ability to simply rest in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Oh they had returned unto Jesus after doing great exploits and yet the Lord Jesus would call and invite them to a place of rest. It’s almost as if Jesus didn’t want them to be caught up and somehow lost in their own exploits for He knew and understood the tremendous and inherit dangers which were present in that place. The Lord Jesus would indeed invite the disciples into the place where they would come aside with Him and rest for the Lord did not want them to nor would He allow them to be caught up and consumed in that which they had done in His name and for Him in this life. The Lord Jesus would call and invite them into a place of rest away with Him that He might reset. Re-center and refocus them. The Lord Jesus would call and invite them into a place of rest in His presence for he knew that resting in His presence would help readjust their focus from the great things they had done to the One who was great among them in their presence. If you read the words which are found within these passages you can clearly find various different means that would have caused the disciples to pursue being great—and not only pursuing being great but also being the greatest. I continue to be absolutely amazed with the truth that the disciples didn’t dispute which among themselves was great nor even what it took to be great but they disputed among themselves who w as the greatest. Oh there is a vast difference between seeking to be great, seeking to be greater and seeking to be the greatest in the midst of the kingdom and even in the midst of the church. If the disciples who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh could get caught up with disputing among themselves who was the greatest then we must needs recognize and understand that we ourselves can succumb to the same temptation, trap and snare. We dare not and must not believe or even think for a minute that we are somehow immune and exempt from such a trap and snare within our hearts and lives for I am convinced that believing such a lie can indeed cause us to fail and falter for we would indeed place more confidence in our flesh than we do in the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit working within our lives. We read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and we find various different means whereby the disciples could have argued which one among them was the greatest based on the works which they had wrought and even the words which they had spoken. The disciples returned to the Lord Jesus speaking of all they had spoken and all they had done and it would have been very easy to allow themselves to get caught in the trap of performance, words and works. Oh that we would recognize and understand the inherent danger that is found in allowing ourselves to get caught up in the works which we might be engaged in—even that which we have been anointed to do in the name of the Lord Jesus. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning works—regardless of whether it is casting out devils, prophesying in the name of the Lord Jesus, and even doing many great works in the name of the Lord Jesus—it’s that while it might very well cause us to appear great in the eyes of men it is possible for us to be unknown in heaven. It’s interesting that when delivering the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of many who would come into Him in that day and would speak of that which they had prophesied in His name, how they had cast out devils in His name and how they had done many wonders in His name and yet He would declare that he never knew them. What’s more is that the language found when the seventy returned from their works and exploits in the midst of the land speaking of the devils being subject to them in the name of Jesus the Lord would instruct them to not rejoice that the devils were subject to them in His name but rather that their names were written. In heaven. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it would be very easy to speak of the works which we are able to participate in within this life and even use such works to try and prop ourselves up as something and someone great and yet we are entirely and altogether unknown in heaven. Not only this but it is also possible that we boast of and speak of ourselves as being something and someone great and yet we are unknown in heaven and our names are not written in the book of heaven. Oh that we would recognize and understand just how absolutely incredible this truly is for it forces us to acknowledge that we are absolutely nothing and have absolutely nothing without and apart from the grace of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ within our lives. As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in this passage of. Scripture for it presents us with the second account of the rich young ruler who would come unto Jesus asking Him what good thing he must needs do to inherit eternal life. What makes the narrative of the rich young ruler so incredibly unique when you take the time to think about it is that when he came into the presence of the Lord Jesus he did so thinking and believing that there was something he himself needed to do to inherit eternal life. This rich young ruler came into the presence of Jesus acknowledging Jesus as good and as Master and upon the basis of those he would ask what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to something which countless men and women are misguided about when they think about eternal life. Within this passage we are brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding those who would come into the presence of the Lord Jesus thinking and believing that everlasting and eternal life is something they can do themselves. There are those who would come into the presence of Jesus thinking and believing that there was somehow some thing they could do—some good thing—they could and must do that they might inherit eternal life. Such. Individuals enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus with somewhat sincere and genuine hearts as they ask Him what they must do to inherit eternal life and yet they fail to recognize and understand that those who call upon the name of the Lord are saved. What’s more is that it was the apostle Paul who would emphatically write and declare that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe within our hearts that the Father raised Him from the dead on the third day we shall be saved. I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the truly astonishing and powerful truth surrounding the clarion call to salvation and how those who would seek to enter into eternal life are those who must believe by faith according to the grace of the living God. Those who would seek to enter into eternal life must needs recognize and acknowledge that there is absolutely nothing they can do in an of themselves to inherit eternal life for it is nothing in and of themselves that would cause such a manifestation to be present within their lives. When Jesus heard this rich young ruler ask Him what good thing. He must do to inherit eternal life He would deflect the goodness ascribed to Him to the Father thus setting the foundation for eternal life which is indeed based upon the goodness of the Father. This is something we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the display of the goodness of God as set against and compared to that which He has commanded us. Within this passage of Scripture we find the commandments given by the living God in the Ten Commandments—namely Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, and Honour thy father and mother—in direct connection to that which the Lord Jesus would instruct and invite this young ruler to do. The rich young ruler professed to have kept all the commandments mentioned by the Lord Jesus from his youth up and would proceed to ask what he still lacked. It’s important that we note that this rich young ruler would indeed encounter the goodness of the Father and the love of the Son for within this account we find John Mark describing how when Jesus looked at Him He loved him. There is something truly astonishing and remarkable about the words we find in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth of the goodness of God as being put on display by the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though the Lord Jesus would present the Father as being good He would also highlight and underscore the commandments which God had given in the Ten Commandments. Upon hearing Jesus provide these commandments the rich young ruler would make the profession and declaration that He had kept those commandments from his youth up. Oh this is something we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding that which the Lord Jesus would speak unto this rich young ruler for He would proceed to give him one final instruction and invitation. When the Lord Jesus heard the rich young ruler declare how he had kept all these commandments from his youth up He would not only declare that there was one thing he still lacked and how that one thing was selling whatever he had, giving to the poor and he would have treasure in heaven. Once he had delivered, detached and disconnected himself from the riches and possessions of this world he would then be free to take up his cross and follow the Lord Jesus. Essentially that which the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto the rich younger ruler that what was missing within his life was taking up his cross and following Him and yet how that which stood in the way between himself and following Jesus was his attachment to the riches and possessions of this world. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to that which we are called to do that we might walk with and follow the Lord Jesus—namely detach and disconnect ourselves from the riches and possessions of this world that our heart and soul might indeed be free to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus whithersoever He leads and goes.

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