True Greatness

Dear Friends,

“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest” Luke 9:46

In answer to the question ‘Who is the greatest?’ we would undoubtedly want to answer ‘Jesus is’. Yet have you noticed how Jesus pursued greatness? Walk through some of Luke’s Gospel with Him:

Jesus visits people – but not important, strategic or influential people. He makes various visits to a mix of people who are struggling physically or spiritually – a mother-in-law, a leper, a paralytic, a tax collector (Luke 4-5). After that there was a bloke with a withered hand, a foreigner’s sick son and a widow whose son had just died (Luke 6-7). He also spends time with a big crowd – but it’s not the movers and shakers in the crowd He’s interested in; it’s the sick and troubled who get His attention.

Some people found this quite surprising and confusing. Even John the Baptist was confused – he asked Jesus, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ But Jesus pressed on; a sinful woman, several ordinary and broken women and a mad man who lived in the back of beyond howling among the tombs. At this point a crowd of people questions Jesus behaviour and ask Him to leave. And He does. The lack of popularity doesn’t seem to bother Him. Instead He heads off to find yet another sick woman and a dying little girl. (Luke 7-8)

However, it’s at this point that somehow Jesus hits the big time – He gets an invitation to a garden party at the palace… and turns it down (Luke 9). But – just in case we are beginning to wonder about Jesus’ greatness – He reveals himself as the Son of God in dazzling glory: to three people.

I get the impression that if TV channels and chat shows had existed, Jesus would have avoided them. If Twitter and blogging were around, Jesus wouldn’t have bothered. He wasn’t interested in fame, celebrity or greatness. Or perhaps it is be er to say that He redefined greatness. Jesus made a habit of giving his time to unknown, broken people in out-of-the-way places, overlooked by the world but delighted in by Him. We don’t even know the names of most of the people He went out of his way to help. In terms of history, they are nobodies.

So when His disciples started an argument ‘as to which of them would be the greatest’, Jesus redefined it. He went and fetched a child – a ‘nobody’ – and taught them that when you love and care for ‘nobodies’, you are doing something truly great. Or as Francis Schaeffer (an Evangelical Christian theologian) used to say, ‘there are no little people’. There is no such thing as a person who doesn’t matter. Jesus teaches us that nobody is a nobody.

The truth is that if Jesus wasn’t interested in ‘little people’, He would have overlooked you and me. I guess my problem is that I tend to think more of myself than I ought – this is the same problem the disciples had. They had seen Jesus using His time to love the ‘least’ but they still got into an argument with each other about who was the greatest. In fact, on the night before Jesus died, over the last supper, they repeated the argument again. They still hadn’t learned the lesson.

Have we?

With love in Christ,

Joe Dent