Hi Bethel, Adam Phillips here. We’re in Luke 9 today.
Let’s zero in on verses 46-48, the short little story about the disciples arguing over who is the greatest.
I don’t know about you, but my initial response to stories likes this can be a tad judgy. I mean, here are these grown men who have been doing life with the Messiah. A few of them just saw Jesus transfigured in his glory and chatting with Elijah and Moses, two of the most prominent people in Jewish history. And Jesus had just finished telling the disciples that life with him looked like denying yourself and taking up your cross. And yet here they are arguing and competing about which one of them is on top!
It’s easy to be judgy, but don’t these guys give us a glimpse into our own hearts?
Here’s the question these verses ask us to consider: What does it actually mean to be great?
Well, it depends on who you ask.
Some might say that achieving real greatness is ascending to the top in your sphere. So being at the top of the work ladder, getting a huge following on Instagram and Snapchat, earning a bunch of degrees next to your name, or being so awesome at something that you become a household name.
Jesus flips that upside down and inside out.
Jesus hears the disciple arguing and sees straight into their hearts, so he decides to re-arrange their mental furniture. In vs 47 he grabs a child (likely a toddler or baby), and he essentially says, “This is an example of who is the greatest in my Kingdom.” Someone really tiny with zero achievements, no resume to speak of, and still 100% reliant on a bigger person for everything. He goes on in vs 48 to say, “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Greatness isn’t about being the biggest and shiniest, the most accomplished, the most popular or loved. It’s about humility. Recognizing and embracing that we are totally, utterly, 100% dependent on Jesus for everything. And in that humility, serving others rather than competing. Jesus says as much when the disciples argue again over the same question of greatness in Luke 22:27, “For who is greater, the one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
If we want to experience true greatness, we need a new template. Jesus gives us one with his life, which moved from the cross to resurrection. He invites us to follow him on the path of humility that leads to real exaltation and greatness.
Father, we are no different from the disciples. We want greatness. We want to be important. We compete against each other for the seat of glory. We repent of that today. Help us get our eyes off of ourselves and the world’s race for greatness and fix us on your Son, Jesus, who is truly is the greatest. Convince us that true greatness comes through connection with Him, through embracing a life of total reliance on Him, and through being servants who don’t compete but live to lift others up. Holy Spirit, empower us for this work that we can’t do on our own. We pray this in Jesus name and for his glory and greatness. Amen.