Matthew 20:26
It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
Ambition InsatiableC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:20-28
Can Ye Drink of My Cup?J. Stewart.Matthew 20:20-28
Christ's Answer to Salome's PetitionH. B. Moffat, M. A.Matthew 20:20-28
Distinction in the KingdomJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 20:20-28
Divine RewardsBishop Huntingdon, D. D.Matthew 20:20-28
ElevationJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 20:20-28
Ignorant RequestsLapide.Matthew 20:20-28
Like Master, Like ServantMatthew 20:20-28
Men Sometimes Know not What They AskJ. P. Lange, D. D.Matthew 20:20-28
Nearest to ChristDr. McLaren.Matthew 20:20-28
Nearness to Christ in HeavenDr. McLaren.Matthew 20:20-28
Nearness to Christ in Heaven not Mere FavouritismDr. McLaren.Matthew 20:20-28
Place-Seeking ParentsA. Barnes, D. D.Matthew 20:20-28
Right and Wrong PrayersJohn Trapp., Matthew Pool.Matthew 20:20-28
Salome's Petition for Her TwoB. W. Noel, M. A.Matthew 20:20-28
Salome's Petition for Zebedee's SonsMarcus Dods Matthew 20:20-28
The Church SphereJ. P. Lange, D. D.Matthew 20:20-28
The Divine Preparation of Heaven for MenDr. McLaren.Matthew 20:20-28
The Law of Rank and Position in God's KingdomGeo. Macdonald, M. A.Matthew 20:20-28
Ye Know not What Ye AskMatthew 20:20-28
True GreatnessW.F. Adeney Matthew 20:25-27
Basis of True GreatnessR. W. Clark, D. D.Matthew 20:26-28
Christ Our Redeemer Because Our ServantH. Melvill, B. D. .Matthew 20:26-28
Greatness Measured by ServiceG. Anderson, D. D.Matthew 20:26-28
Pride Destroys the Best Elements of CharacterH. Melvill, B. D.Matthew 20:26-28
The Greatness of Being UsefulH. Melvill, B. D.Matthew 20:26-28
True GreatnessC. O. Bridgman, D. D.Matthew 20:26-28
The daring request of the mother of Zebedee's children roused the jealousy of the other disciples. This was natural, and quite in accordance with the customs of the world. Nevertheless, Christ disapproved of the feeling. It showed something of the same selfish ambition that the two brothers had displayed.


1. The necessity of this rule. It springs from the essential characteristics of Christianity.

(1) Brotherhood. In Christ rich and poor, high and low, are brothers, members of one family. We are to call no man master in the Church, because we are all brethren. No institution of man is more democratic than the Church of Christ - when it realizes his idea.

(2) The supremacy of Christ. One is our Master, even Christ (Matthew 23:8). For a man to exercise lordship is to usurp the kingly office of Christ. Not only is he supreme; he deals directly with every soul in his kingdom.

(3) The worthlessness of external pre-eminence. Christ cares for nothing of this sort. Of titles and offices he takes no account. Character and conduct are the only things that he observes and judges us by and character and conduct are quite independent of official position and nominal rank.

2. The application of this rule. It has been and it is now so grievously neglected and outraged that we ought to expose the wrong with a reformer's courage.

(1) In hierarchical pretensions. The papal claims are here out of court. Therefore the friends of the papacy do not favour the reading of the New Testament by the people. But all domineering priestliness is equally excluded.

(2) In worldly position. Differences of rank that have nothing to do with ecclesiastical order are also quite out of place in the Church. They may have their use in the world. But they cannot confer any privileges in spiritual and religious matters.

II. CHRISTIAN GREATNESS IS GREATNESS OF SERVICE. It is not hierarchical power and dignity. It is not secular wealth and titles. It is a purely moral greatness - the result of conduct. They stand highest in the kingdom of heaven who best serve their brethren.

1. The grounds of this greatness.

(1) It is Christ-like. They will be most honoured by Christ who best resemble him; they will come nearest to him in rank who follow him most closely in conduct. Christ was the servant of all.

(2) It is inherently excellent. God honours Christ himself for this very reason. He humbled himself and took on him the form of a servant - "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him" (Philippians 2:9). To serve is to manifest energy in unselfishness and kindness - the best of all things witnessed on earth.

2. The pursuit of this greatness. The words, "and whosoever would become great among you shall be your servant," are not the threat of a punishment for ambition. They are an indication of the way to true greatness. This is not, like worldly greatness, reserved for the privileged. It is within the reach of all. If any wish to approach the honours coveted for the brothers James and John, the way is open. It is to be first in service, to excel in self-sacrificing toil for the good of others. - W.F.A.

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Greatness a word often used, and people's ideas of it differ much. Some regard it as consisting in wealth, social position, physical strength. Christ places it in service, springing from love in the heart. Man's true greatness must be in himself.

1. The importance of a true ideal of life.

2. This true ideal can be realized by every one of us. No life need be a failure.

(C. O. Bridgman, D. D.)

I. Greatness is to be measured by service. No man lives or dies to himself. Florence .Nightingale moved other women most when she herself went to minister on battle fields.

II. The greater men are in intellect and culture, the more imperative it is that they become leaders and helpers. If a man has power to do good and refuses, he is not guiltless.

III. Those who thus labour for the good of their fellow-men are the greatest. Love is the greatest power on the earth.

(G. Anderson, D. D.)

1. Our Lord does not condemn the spirit of ambition, but simply aims to point out the basis of real greatness. He regarded His disciples, in a certain sense, as kings, but He would have them establish their regal right in a different manner from the princes of this world.

2. In how many scriptural promises do we find this principle recognized. They that turn many to righteousness " shall shine as the stars for ever and ever:' St. Paul says, "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness," etc.

3. Rank in the kingdom of heaven will be measured by humility. Condescension is the measure of exaltation. The way up to the glory of the Exalted One is through humble, self-denying love.

(R. W. Clark, D. D.)

Yet what has the patriot made himself but the servant of his countrymen: It was in order to the ministering to the well-being of thousands, that he threw himself into the breach, and challenged tyranny to the battle. It was for the sake of securing the rights of those who trod the same soil with himself, that he arose as the champion of the wretched and injured. The case is the same with the philosopher as with the patriot. Accordingly, he who labours in the mine of truth, and presents to the world the results of his investigations, furnishes his fellow-men with new principles on which to act in the business of life, and thus equips them for fresh enterprises, and instructs them how to add to the sum total of happiness. We need not exemplify this in particular instances. You are all aware how scientific research is turned to account in everyday life, and how the very lowest of our people enjoy, in one way or another, the fruits of discoveries which are due to the marvellous sagacity, and the repeated experiments, of those who rank foremost in the annals of philosophy. And thus it is evident that the man who is great in science, is great in the power of serving his fellow-men, and that it is this latter greatness which insures him their applauses. If his discoveries were of no benefit to the many; if they opened no means by which enjoyments might be multiplied, toil diminished, or danger averted; his name would be known only within a limited circle, and there would be nothing that approached to a general recognition of superiority. The individual again who gains renown as a statesman, who serves his country in the senate as the warrior in the field, is the minister to all classes, so that the very lowest have the profit of his toils. And in proportion as the service wore the aspect of selfishness, would the tribute of applause be diminished: we should be less and less disposed to allow, that, in making himself a servant, he had made himself great, if we had increasing cause to think that his main design was the serving himself. But there is no room for suspicions of this class, when the exhibition is that of a fine Christian philanthropy, leading a man to give his assiduity to the sick-beds of the poor, or the prisons of the criminal. Accordingly, when an individual is manifestly and strongly actuated by this philanthropy, there is an almost universal consent in awarding him the appellation of great: even those who would be amongst the last to imitate are amongst the first to applaud.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The rebel against lawful authority cannot be truly great: the slave of his own passions cannot be truly great: the idolater of his own powers cannot be truly great. And the proud man is this rebel, this slave, this idolater; for pride spurns at the Divine dominion, gives vigour to depraved affections, and exaggerates all our powers. What, then, can be more accurate than that pride destroys the chief elements of which a great character is compounded, so that it must be to direct a man in the way to eminence, to prescribe that he be "clothed with humility?"

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

But if Christ thus made Himself servant to the human race, it is this very fact which is to draw to Him finally universal homage. Had He not been their servant, He could not have been their Redeemer; and, if not their Redeemer, then at His name would not every knee have bowed, "of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." Thus He illustrates His own precept: He became great through redeeming; but since lie redeemed through making Himself the minister to a lost world, lie became great through becoming a servant.

(H. Melvill, B. D. .)

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