Even in a democratic society, status counts. Where we live, what kind of car we drive, and how we dress are important factors which help determine how we feel about ourselves and others. Some social commentators believe that it is an American myth that people can move easily up the class ladder. How we feel about our place and position in life can either lead to peace or perpetual dissatisfaction.
But what is true status? Is it living in the finest neighborhoods; having a powerful and influential job; or being brilliant and famous? Jesus’ disciples debated the question of status and greatness. In the following studies, we will see both Jesus’ and Paul’s responses and perspectives on status and greatness.
The context of this passage is important. Jesus has just predicted that he, as Messiah, will be rejected by the religious leadership in Israel, he will be killed, and then he will rise again (Mark 9:30-32). The disciples are literally unable to understand these words because Jesus’ teaching is so different from what they understand about the Messiah. To them the Messiah will be a conquering hero who rids Israel of its enemies and establishes the world-wide reign of God.
Read Mark 9:33-37 and discuss your responses to the following questions.
|1. Why did the disciples keep quiet when Jesus asked them what they were arguing about?a. They were embarassed
b. They knew he would scold them
c. They were tired of listening to him preach at them
d. They felt it was none of his business
e. They knew they were wrong in arguing with each other
|2. Why would the disciples even argue over who was the greatest?a. They believed that high status meant privilege b. They were just exhibiting their human nature
c. They really didn’t like each other
d. They didn’t understand what Christ had been teaching them
|3. What did Jesus mean when he said that to be first, we must be the very last?a. The only status that matters is what God thinks of you
b. By putting others first, you can manipulate them
c. By serving others first, you are also serving God first
d. When you serve others, they will step aside and let you go ahead e. When you serve others, you will inherit eternal life
| 4. Which of the following conventional wisdom contradicts Jesus’ teaching?
a. Only the strong survive
b. You can have it all
c. Look out for #1
d. No guts, no glory
|5. What does it mean to be a “servant of all”?a. Doing menial tasks for everyone else
b. Following the example of Christ
c. Allowing others to treat you poorly
d. Maintaining an attitude which looks to serve others
e. Considering others’ interests over your own
| 6. Why did Jesus liken himself to a child?
a. Because children have more admirable qualities than adults
b. Because Jesus, like a child, is to be accepted just as he is
c. Because children are loved and held in high esteem by God
d. Because children are naturally humble and loving
e. Because Jesus, like a child, should be accepted by faith
Status-seeking can change a person’s life. What are the most common changes one experiences when seeking status?
__ closer friendships __ alienation of friends __ selfishness __ unselfishness
__ compromise __ more integrity __ stress __ greater concern for others
__ competition __ more time with family __ less time with family __ less concern for others
__ financial problems __ excitement __ more leisure __ more work
__ less time with friends __ more time with friends __ increased self-esteem __ family conflict
Read Philippians 2:5-11.
- If you had the opportunity to be God, what one thing would you do first?
- What do we learn from these verses about humility and sacrifice?