Bible Study Lessons

The Secret to True Greatness


A dear older lady was once weeping when her pastor paid his visit. When he inquired what was wrong, she told him that she was sad because she had done so little for Christ. Ever since she’d been a little girl she’d wanted to serve the Lord Jesus and live for Him, but she felt she had done so little. The pastor asked what she had done. “I have washed dishes, cooked three meals a day, taken care of the children, mopped the floor, and mended the clothes. That is all I have done all my life, and I wanted to do something for Jesus.” “And where are your boys?” the preacher asked. She looked at her pastor with surprise. “Why, you know my boys! You ordained Mark yourself before he went to China as a missionary.” “And where is Luke?” Again she looked at him with a question in her eyes. “He was sent out from your church. Didn’t you send him out? I just received a letter from him and revival has broken out at his mission station.” “And Matthew?” Now her eyes were glowing as she answered. “Ah, he is serving in China with Mark. Isn’t it wonderful that they can be together? And John, my youngest, came to me just the other night and said that God has spoken to his heart and called him to go serve with Luke in Africa once he has looked after me until I get to glory.” The pastor looked at the dear lady and said, “And you say your life has been wasted in mopping floors, darning socks, washing dishes, and doing the trivial tasks. I'd like to have your mansion when we are called home! It will be very near the throne!” In God’s eyes, the humble servants are the greatest and will receive the greatest reward. See what Jesus says about greatness and His noble example of servanthood as you study Mark 9:30-35.



Ask the Lord to help you concentrate and understand His Word as you study it today.

Read Focus Verses

Read Mark 9:30-35 and see what Christ says about true greatness.


Where were Jesus and His disciples during this passage according to verse 30?


Why didn't Jesus want people to know where He was according to verses 30-31?


What does Jesus say will happen to Him?

The Disciples

What does verse 32 say about the disciples?

Where Next?

Where did they end up in verse 33?

The Question

What did Jesus ask the disciples?

The Answer

How did the disciples answer?

The Dispute

What had they been arguing about?

Picture It

Try to picture what it looked like in verse 35.

Jesus' Instruction

What does Jesus say in verse 35?


Jesus gives an illustration which we'll look at in the next study plan, but it helps us understand Jesus point in today's passage. Look at Mark 9:36-37.


What illustration does Jesus give to help us understand His instruction better?

Keyword - Servant

The word servant helps us understand the theme of today's passage.



Mark the word servant in Mark 9:35.

Keywords - Jesus Christ

Jesus is the central Character of this passage as well as of the whole book of Mark.

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Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Mark the names of and references to Jesus Christ in Mark 9:30-35.


The Second Time

We've already seen Jesus telling His disciples what was going to happen to Him in the last chapter - Mark 8:31-33.

When It Happened

When these things happened, the disciples still didn't believe them at first as we see in Mark 16:9-14.


What may have been some of the reasons the disciples didn't believe what Jesus said about His future?

A Warning

How can their unbelief of Jesus' direct words even after they began to be fulfilled serve as a warning to you?

Nothing Unusual

The occasion recorded in today's passage wasn't the only time the disciples argued about which of them was the greatest as we see in Luke 22:24.

More Instruction

Matthew 18:1-4 records more of what Jesus said to the disciples on this occasion.


What illustration does Jesus use for His lesson on true greatness in Matthew 18:1-4?


What does Jesus say is the key to true greatness in Matthew 18:4?


Proverbs 18:12 says the same thing.

Pride and Humility

What is the result of pride according to Proverbs 18:12? Of humility?

The Greatest Servant

In Mark 10:42-45 the disciples are all trying to be the greatest again. Notice what Jesus says to them.

Want to Be Great?

What does Jesus say to anyone who wants to be great?

Greatest Example

Who is the chief Example of servanthood?

Bringing It All Together

Philippians 2:5-11 ties together all three - service, humility, and Christ's example.

Fitting the Pieces Together

How do service, humility, and Christ's example fit together?

Greatest Love

John 15:13 builds our understanding of Christ's loving, humble service.


According to all these verses, how did Christ serve us?

God's Response

What was God's response to Christ humbling Himself and serving us according to Philippians 2?

Be Like Him

What does Philippians 2:5 tell us to do in response to Christ's humble servanthood?


In 1 Peter 5:5-7 we learn more about how this applies to our lives.

About God

What does 1 Peter 5:5-7 say about God?

Our Response

How does it tell us to respond to those truths about God?

Jesus' Powerful Example

In John 13 Jesus did the job of the lowliest servant - washing feet - to show the depths of His humility and leave us an example. This is a dramatic presentation of the amazing story.

The Instruction

Read John 13:12-17 and imagine that you are hearing Jesus' words for the first time as one of the disciples. You are still shocked because Jesus Himself has just washed your feet.


What did Jesus do in John 13?


How did Jesus apply it to those who follow Him?


How does this example help us understand what Jesus meant in today's passage?

A Contrast

The book of 3 John contrasts two men - Gaius and Diotrephes - who show us the contrast between the true greatness of a humble servant and the self-serving ambition of a prideful man. You can study 3 John and the contrast in the study plan called, "The One Who Wanted to Be First."

Coming Out Ahead

In the next chapter, Mark 10:28-31, right before Jesus again tells the disciples what will happen to Him in Jerusalem and the disciples try to be greater than each other, Jesus explains how those who humble themselves are exalted.

Two-Fold Reward

What is the two-fold reward of doing things God's way instead of the world's way?


Galatians 5:13 explains what motivates the kind of service Christ expects of His people.

Serve By Love

What motivates true Christian service?

Once More

Read Mark 9:30-35 once more and notice how Christ's example and instruction fit together.

About Jesus

What do we learn about the Lord Jesus in these verses?

For Life

What instruction does Christ give you in these verses?


Ideas About Greatness

What have you thought makes a person great? Does your view about this need to change to match God's?

Humble Servant

Whether or not you want to be great, Christ clearly instructs His followers to be humble servants. Is that how you think of yourself? Does your life match the description?

Serving by Love

What is one thing in your life - particularly in the way you relate to another person - that you will change this week to serve someone in love like Jesus would?



We hope this study plan has helped you understand true greatness the way God does and has challenged you to be a humble servant like the Lord Jesus.


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