Disciples Dispute Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom

Mark provides a series of parables in chronological order matched to the overall story of the Bible. This one is about Abraham.

The Story

33And they came to Capernaum; and when they entered the house, he asked them, What were you reasoning among yourselves on the road? 34But they kept silent, for on the road they had argued 1 with 1 about who was the greatest of them. 35And Joshua sat down and called the 12 and said to them, He who wishes to be 1st, let him be the last of men, and the servant of every man. 36And he took 1 little child and made him stand in the middle; then he took him in his arms, and said to them, 37Whoever receives a child like this in my name, he receives me; and he who receives me, does not receive me, but him who has sent me. Mark 9:33-37


Mark’s narrative now turns to the question of who is the greatest. The question is an interesting one because it challenges scripture knowledge.

Of course the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus himself. His is the servant of all, having died on a cross. He is also Lord of lords and will return soon as a conquering king. He refers to himself as the least in the kingdom in heaven, especially in reference to John the Baptist. (cite)

Beyond Jesus, of course, who is greatest?

There were many great men in the Bible, Moses, David, Noah are some. But across the field of possible answers, one man stands out as the most important.

That man was Abram, later Abraham.

Doctrine of Adoption

When we decide to follow Jesus we are adopted into Abraham’s family. We become joint heirs with the rest of Abraham’s faith family. The New Covenant, under the blood of Jesus, is what Abraham looked forward to. He is the father of all who believe... in Jesus.Galatians 3:29

When the disciples are walking along the road disputing who is the greatest, they are pointing at the next story along the main Bible chronology, the story of Abraham. Abraham is the answer to their debate. Abraham is the greatest in the kingdom of God.

Abraham is also first chronologically. From Abraham forward there is always a faith community in history.

Jesus makes a reference of the reversed order of things which appears to be a reference to a reversed order of the resurrection. (This is a hunch, cannot clearly cite other references to support.) This is also a direct reference to what greatness really is.

Phil Stone, Updated 2016-11-06