Imagine spending three years with Jesus, following Him around with eleven other sidekicks, watching Him do all those wonderful miracles, then having the gall, at the end of it, to argue with your eleven buddies which one of you was the greatest? It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around it, yet it shouldn’t be because we all, in some way, want to be great. It’s the pride thing.
Mark 9: 34 tells us that the disciples had “disputed among themselves who should be the greatest,” and this after three of them had just witnessed Jesus transfigured in front of their eyes as He talked to Moses and Elijah, and after all twelve witnessed Jesus casting out a demon from a boy they themselves had been unable to cast out. Here they were in the presence of true greatness and all they could think about was their own importance.
Then in Luke 22 we see them again disputing who was the greatest. They were celebrating the last supper. Jesus had just told them he was going to suffer and die, had talked about the kingdom of God, and also that one of them was going to betray Him. And right after a brief inquiry by the apostles of who the traitor was, came this stunner in Luke 22:24, “And there was also a strife among them (the disciples) which of them should be accounted the greatest.”
Both passages reveal the depths of man’s self absorption. And be it right or wrong, most of us want to be “great”. And since we do, it would behoove us to learn how to accomplish it.
In both the Mark passage and the one in Luke, Jesus basically says the same thing: those who want to be great must be the servant of others. Talk about radical! Upside down, even, to our way of thinking. In a world where most people are trying to scramble to the top Jesus says the path to greatest is serving others. Serving others means humbling ourselves, putting our own selfish interests aside in order to consider the interests and wellbeing of others. It can mean taking the lower place instead of the higher, more prestigious, one. And since it fundamentally goes against the grain of our human nature, we could never achieve this without the help of the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can change us, who can enable us to overcome our pride, and make us into the truly great people God has created us to be.
I say, let the work commence.
Until next time,