Sabbath, November 12, 2011
“Again Jesus explained to the disciples that His kingdom is not characterized by earthly dignity and display. At the feet of Jesus all these distinctions are forgotten. The rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, meet together, with no thought of caste or worldly preeminence. All meet as blood-bought souls, alike dependent upon One who has redeemed them to God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 437.
Preparation for the coming days
1. What did the Lord tell His disciples a number of times to prepare them for the coming trial?
Mark 9:31, 32 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Matthew 17:22, 23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
“On the journey through Galilee, Christ had again tried to prepare the minds of His disciples for the scenes before Him. He told them that He was to go up to Jerusalem to be put to death and to rise again. And He added the strange and solemn announcement that He was to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies. The disciples did not even now comprehend His words. Although the shadow of a great sorrow fell upon them, a spirit of rivalry found a place in their hearts.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 432.
Strife for first place
2. Even though Jesus did everything possible to prepare them for their mission, what dominated their thoughts and discussions? How did He bring up the subject at an appropriate time?
Luke 9:46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
Mark 9:33, 34 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 way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
“This strife they thought to conceal from Jesus, and they did not, as usual, press close to His side, but loitered behind, so that He was in advance of them as they entered Capernaum. Jesus read their thoughts, and He longed to counsel and instruct them. But for this He awaited a quiet hour, when their hearts should be open to receive His words….
“When Christ and the disciples were alone in the house, while Peter was gone to the sea, Jesus called the others to Him, and asked, ‘What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?’ The presence of Jesus, and His question, put the matter in an entirely different light from that in which it had appeared to them while they were contending by the way. Shame and self-condemnation kept them silent. Jesus had told them that He was to die for their sake, and their selfish ambition was in painful contrast to His unselfish love.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 432, 434, 435.
3. What principle, which was exemplified in His own life and actions, did He lay out before them?
Mark 9:35 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 servant of all.
“Before honor is humility. To fill a high place before men, Heaven chooses the worker who, like John the Baptist, takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. The heavenly intelligences can co-operate with him who is seeking, not to exalt self, but to save souls. He who feels most deeply his need of divine aid will plead for it; and the Holy Spirit will give unto him glimpses of Jesus that will strengthen and uplift the soul. From communion with Christ he will go forth to work for those who are perishing in their sins. He is anointed for his mission; and he succeeds where many of the learned and intellectually wise would fail.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 436.
4. Knowing their thoughts, what example did He present to illustrate what constitutes true greatness?
Luke 9:47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him.
Matthew 18:2, 3 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.
“It was not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed as to the nature of His kingdom. What they needed was a change of heart that would bring them into harmony with its principles. Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them; then tenderly folding the little one in His arms He said, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 437.
5. How did He link humility and greatness in the heavenly kingdom?
Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“But when men exalt themselves, feeling that they are a necessity for the success of God’s great plan, the Lord causes them to be set aside. It is made evident that the Lord is not dependent upon them. The work does not stop because of their removal from it, but goes forward with greater power….
“The religion of Christ is sincerity itself. Zeal for God’s glory is the motive implanted by the Holy Spirit; and only the effectual working of the Spirit can implant this motive. Only the power of God can banish self-seeking and hypocrisy. This change is the sign of His working. When the faith we accept destroys selfishness and pretense, when it leads us to seek God’s glory and not our own, we may know that it is of the right order. ‘Father, glorify Thy name’ (John 12:28), was the keynote of Christ’s life, and if we follow Him, this will be the keynote of our life. He commands us to ‘walk, even as He walked;’ and ‘hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.’ 1 John 2:6, 3.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 436, 409.
What God appreciates
6. Instead of being concerned about who would occupy the first place, what were they to learn to appreciate?
Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Mark 9:36, 37 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.
“The sincere, contrite soul is precious in the sight of God. He places His own signet upon men, not by their rank, not by their wealth, not by their intellectual greatness, but by their oneness with Christ. The Lord of glory is satisfied with those who are meek and lowly in heart. ‘Thou hast also given me,’ said David, ‘the shield of Thy salvation:… and Thy gentleness’–as an element in the human character–‘hath made me great.’ Psalm 18:35.
“‘Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name,’ said Jesus, ‘receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.’ ‘Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool:… but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.’ Isaiah 66:1, 2.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 437.
7. Therefore, to God, who is truly great?
Luke 9:48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
Personal question: How has God helped you live out this important principle?
“Not by their wealth, their education, or their position does God estimate men. He estimates them by their purity of motive and their beauty of character. He looks to see how much of His Spirit they possess and how much of His likeness their life reveals. To be great in God’s kingdom is to be as a little child in humility, in simplicity of faith, and in purity of love.
“‘Ye know,’ Christ said, ‘that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister.’ Matthew 20:25, 26, A.R.V.” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 477, 478.
“If any are qualified for a higher position, the Lord will lay the burden, not alone on them, but on those who have tested them, who know their worth, and who can understandingly urge them forward. It is those who perform faithfully their appointed work day by day, who in God’s own time will hear His call, ‘Come up higher.’” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 477.
For additional study
• Luke 14:11; 18:14
• The Sanctified Life, pp. 55, 56
• Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 638
Find a Bible verse that shows the contrast between God’s perspective and human perspective.