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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Surprising Greatness"

February 11, 2004

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“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:43

Who is the greatest? How would you answer that question? Muhammed Ali repeatedly said, “I’m the greatest!” You could survey the public for their choices – politicians, journalists, religious or business leaders. You could turn to historians for their estimate based on the historical contributions of great individuals.

James and John were working for a prominent place in Jesus’ kingdom, one on His right and the other on His left. They were measuring greatness by prestige or status. The other disciples were furious when they heard about that request, probably because they wanted the same greatness for themselves.

Are we any different? Do we not strive for greatness in our own way – formal college degrees, title or position on the job, net worth and material possessions, social standing, number of celebrities we know personally, community organizations we join, or even church positions we hold. We struggle, climb ladders, cultivate the right kind of friends, and hope to achieve greatness.

Jesus must have shocked the disciples when He spoke the words of our text. As the greatest man who ever lived, He described His mission in life, “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” (Mark 10:45). He washed the disciples’ feet and “humbled himself … to death, even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Surprising greatness in humble service.

Jolted by Jesus’ words, we confess our fond ambitions and manipulative struggles to achieve greatness and accept His service for us. Redeemed, restored, forgiven, we pick up the towel and ready the basin of water for a life of service. We reach out to others and help them. Surprising greatness!

PRAYER: Lord, make me great in service, as You served on the cross for all. Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: Exodus 12-13    Matthew 26:1-35

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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