Preparation for Short-Term Teams, Part 5

Greatness of God, Luke 9:46-62

I'd love to be famous. I'd love it if I had to be careful in public because I was so widely recognized that small crowds formed and fingers pointed my direction. My children might have to use a different last name just to stop answering the question, “Are you related to Scott Bessenecker.” Even in small towns people would say, “You look exactly like Scott Bessenecker.” I'd say, “Well, as a matter of fact, I am Scott Bessenecker.”

They'd say, “You're kidding! Not the Scott Bessenecker. Sally Jo is not going to believe this. Would you mind signing this?” I'd say, “Of course not. Now, would you like me to make it out to Sally Jo? Is she your wife? This is a really nice town you've got here.” I'd be so gracious and try my best to look so humble and be so approachable. People would say, “He's just so humble and approachable. It's like he's a regular guy!”

Of course, I would be just a regular guy…only better, because I'd be famous. And famous is always better than regular. And it would all be to the glory of God.

The disciples were beginning to get famous, just by their association with Jesus. Crowds were beginning to get impossibly thick. They were getting recognized. In fact, near the end, Peter was pointed out and recognized just when he didn't want to be - when Jesus was in trouble with the authorities. Just before that night, however, they were really enjoying the limelight. It wasn't just their association with Jesus either. They were starting to see some very cool things happen with their own hands. People healed, demons fleeing (except the one in that last passage!), signs and wonders.

It's really too bad that God has such a radically different definition of greatness. Mary Fisher, professor at Asbury Seminary says, “Don't seek to be great men and women of God, seek to be men and women of a great God.” Mother Teresa said something similar. “Don't seek to do great things, seek to do small things with great love.” Most of us need more time in Jesus College to graduate from our desire for wide recognition. Ask God to use this morning's study to thrust one more spear in the heart of our desire for human-defined greatness. There is no other way we can follow him into the hard places.

Read Luke 9:46-48

  1. What criteria do you think the disciples may have used to compare themselves with each other in order to help them to choose the greatest among them?
  2. What qualities are needed to welcome a child? Another time, Jesus says we must make ourselves like a child. What qualities of a child do you think Jesus may have been referring to?

Read Luke 9:49-50

  1. What are some motivations that might cause the disciples to try to stop others who are also ministering "in Jesus' name?"
  2. What are some things about other missionaries that might get on your nerves or even provoke you to attempt to stop their ministry? Ask the Lord to give you grace for those who minister in Jesus' name but who may not be part of your theological "in" group or don't practice ministry the way you do.

Read Luke 9:51-56

  1. The Samaritans were an ethnic group despised by the Jews. They were seen as Jews who had lost their true ethnic identity by assimilating with a conquering majority group and adopting their impure practices. The place of worship (Jerusalem for the Jews) was a point of contention. What can we see of Jesus' attitude about Samaritans here? What is their attitude about him?
  2. Think of a time that you were filled with what seemed to be righteous indignation at the hard-heartedness or hostility of someone to the gospel. What's wrong with the disciples' response?

Read Luke 9:57-62

  1. Jesus was voluntarily homeless. What kinds of things would someone saying with confidence that they will follow "wherever" Jesus goes need to give up in order to make good on their promise?
  2. How in your life has following Jesus meant saying "no" or "not now" to other high-ranking commitments to family, friends, school or expectations of others?


  1. Make a list of things that you have had to give up (or will have to give up upon leaving orientation) as a result of your participation on this missions trip.
  2. Are there still some things that may be standing in the way of your unquestioning, whole-hearted pursuit of Jesus? Pray. Ask the Lord to remember your human frailties and help you to be more unreserved in your devotion to him.

More studies in the series

  1. Letting Go
  2. Transformation to Serve
  3. The Struggle of Association
  4. The Full Picture
  5. Greatness of God
  6. Lambs Among Wolves

Adapted from "Orientation Bible Studies," by Scott Bessenecker, Director, Global Urban Trek, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 2001.


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