Who’s the Greatest

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me, for the least among all of you is the greatest.”

Luke 9:46-50

The disciples did not understand who Jesus nor what his mission was. This is painfully evident in this text in which the disciples argued about who was greatest. Apparently, they believed the kingdom that Jesus was announcing and God was preparing was hierarchical in nature. The disciples thought it was a kingdom that defined people by rank. The mother of James and John even asked Jesus to let her sons sit at his right and left at the head table in the kingdom of God. Matthew 20:20-23.

At that moment in time, these were not people who could accurately present the purpose of Jesus’ ministry. In what Jesus taught there was right or left nor greatest. To follow and understand Jesus, one would have to look for the clues of his mission: washing the feet of the disciples, touching and healing the down-and-outs who sought him out, and Jesus living as a homeless person (Luke 9:57-62).

What the disciples envisioned was more like the political power some people see today. They wanted a kingdom where position and power would be rewarded. But it is obvious from the words of Jesus that such considerations do not enter into the methods of the Kingdom of God. This is a place where the least is the greatest. Where the first is last. Where the “wisdom” of the world is foolishness in God’s book. (1 Corinthians 1:16-25).

The power and wisdom of God contradicts every human standard for such. In fact, Paul said that an instrument of torture and death is where God invests God’s power. 1 Corinthians 1:17. When Jesus told the disciples what was about to happen to him, Peter loudly protested. “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Matthew 16:21-23.

Those who are seeking a kingdom for God that bestows power or wealth are in for a disappointment. Paul told the Roman Christians that “the Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17.

Something to think about: How would a message of “righteousness, peace, and joy” change the way that the world thinks about disciples of Jesus? What conflicting message/s do you think the world sometimes hears?

Something to pray about: God our Father, we pray to you as Jesus taught us, “may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Help us to be kingdom people, committed to the message of the cross and its contradiction of worldly values. May we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and the way that Jesus lived in this world. In his name we pray this. Amen.

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