November 18 I Friday
“…Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” —Luke 22:26
We all have a favourite topic that we like to talk about and this is no different for the disciples of Jesus. Their go-to discussion was to contend, “Who is the greatest?” It is a very interesting and important question. What makes for greatness where it matters most? What makes somebody great in the eyes of God? What makes them significant in the kingdom of heaven? All these issues are implicit in that one question.
We can imagine that the disciples’ dispute was definitely not Peter saying, “I think the greatest among us is John; he’s marvellous.” And John going, “Oh, thank you, Peter, but I don’t think it’s me. I think it’s Andrew. He was the one who found the boy who gave us loaves and fish to feed a crowd.” Rather, their debate was probably closer to Peter saying, “Why are we even discussing this? Who’s the greatest? It’s quite obvious, isn’t it? It’s me!” And John replying, “Hey Peter, you’re just a loud mouth. Come on. We all know who is the disciple whom Jesus loved—me!”
The disciples brought their discourse to Jesus for an answer but were not satisfied because shortly after, on the road to Capernaum, they went back to the same argument. Even in the upper room, on the night of Jesus’s arrest, when Jesus told His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him, the disciples went from talking about “Who is the worst amongst us?” to “Who is the greatest?” Isn’t that incredible? Could we imagine the crassness of that at such a time as this?
Yet, Jesus told the disciples who is the greatest each time this topic came up. He said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). Again, Jesus answers, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
Jesus is telling His disciples to grow into childlikeness if they want to be great in the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because there is a great danger for Christians to become too austere, too regulated, too predictable and too sufficient, whereas greatness in the kingdom involves leaving those behind and going back to childlike humility, dependence, spontaneity, joy and fun. We believe we grow from dependence to independence, which we physically do. But spiritually, we grow from independence to dependence. Maturity is dependence on God in the Christian life, which is one of the great qualities in a child.
Prayer: Almighty God, how beautiful is it to be considered Your child. I ask that my childlikeness never fades as I depend on You always. Thank You, Lord.