Me First!


Our family lives by a motto: “God First, Others Second, I’m Third.” In my daughters’ younger years, during the nightly bath routine, one of them would inevitably demand, “Me first!” In order to practically apply the motto, I would sometimes sit by the tub and announce, “And one day the disciples were arguing about who was greatest…” Before I got much further, my daughters (with some giggles and eye-rolling) would tell the end of the story and quickly offer to let the other be first. In our selfishness, we all jump ahead of others if given the chance. Thankfully, Jesus gave us a lesson about “I’m Third” living in today’s story of the least and the greatest.

  • Is rank or prominence deeply important to you? Why or why not?


46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What were the disciples arguing about, and what did Jesus already know (vss. 46-47)?
  2. Who did Jesus use to instruct the disciples, and what important physical position was given to this person (vs. 47)?
  3. Trace the path of the word “receive,” noting the recipients and who/what was received (vs. 48). Why is this important?
  4. What did John see, what did he and the other disciples do, and why (vs. 49)?
  5. What can you learn from “the one who is” statements (vss. 48, 50)? How should your perspective of yourself and your place in God’s kingdom cause you to treat others?


Jesus knew the troublesome stirrings of “Me first!” in the disciples’ hearts; their prideful jockeying for position was no secret to him. Instead of offering a scathing rebuke, Jesus countered the childish immaturity with… a child. By placing the boy—a culturally insignificant member of society—prominently by his side, Jesus upended all notions of significance and status. Later, when the disciples sought to exclude a Christ follower, Jesus offered another lesson in “I’m Third” living by reminding them that rivalry should not exist among those who follow him.

  • Pray for an accurate view of yourself and others according to how God sees people.
  • Confess where you seek greatness at the expense of others, and ask him to show you any attitudes of exclusion you have toward others.