When you have had an extraordinary revelation of who Jesus is, it seems almost incredible that we would fight over who the greatest amongst us is.
And yet, that is exactly what Jesus’ disciples did. In Luke 9: 28-36, Peter, John and James witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. In Luke 9: 37-43, we read of Jesus healing a demon-possessed child, and in Luke 9: 44-45, Jesus opens up to his disciples about his impending trials.
However, it would seem that the disciples had different things to worry about than the ordeal their master was about to face. Luke 9: 46-48 tells us that they argued about who was the greatest amongst them.
As unthinkable and preposterous their actions may appear to us, we act like this happens at times, too. The disciples lost sight of the big picture and focused on their own immediate shortsighted vision.
Any time we focus on our own cause, we neglect God’s cause.
1 Timothy 3:1 “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble(honorable) task.”
Jeremiah 45: 5 “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not(…)”
Not one person is born thirsting for insignificance or “un-greatness”. That is not the problem. Jesus is not condoning any one of us for aspiring to greatness, purpose or significance.
The problem is found within our motivation – the why behind the desire to be great.
In itself, it is not sinful or proud to aim for leadership or significance. However, it becomes sinful to aspire leadership or significance for yourself and your own personal gain.
To want to be great for God is one thing, but it is another thing to want to be “the greatest”. This implies comparison.
And that implies pride. Pride is at the root of sin, and not one of us is without. That said, there are different manifestations and degrees of pride. Some of us hide behind false humility, some of us struggle in one area and not in another and so on and so forth. But not one of us is immune to the issue of pride.
A Kingdom mindset suggests a completely turnaround approach. In Luke 9: 48, Jesus says “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” In other words, the “leastest” is the “greatest”.
We need to ask ourselves if being a servant is who we are or something we do.
A Kingdom mindset suggests a servant heart, a heart cloaked in humility.
In the world’s eyes, we may be viewed as “the leastest”, but in God’s eyes, we are “the greatest”.
It seems like this lesson is not always learned right away, as we can see a few chapters on, in Luke 22: 24-28. It is the evening of the Last Supper, and Jesus just bore his heart to his disciples regarding the trials he was about to face. And yet again, the disciples get into a dispute as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus answers them again “let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” In other words, be like a child who has no real status, and in others’ eyes, who holds the lowest status. Be servant of all, be the least of all.
However, Jesus then goes on to say: “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (v. 28-30).”
If we learn to be the least now, we will have greatness ahead.
We must learn to get off our high pedestals and learn to humble ourselves. Jesus already has conferred the kingdom to us, but we will only live in that promise later on.
So, until that day comes, let’s focus on Jesus and how He is great. Let’s make our lives count, let’s aspire to greatness, significance and purpose- BUT – may it be All for the Glory of God.
NCF staff meeting. By Nigel Day-Lewis. Compiled by S. Mahabeer.
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