“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” (Luke 22:24)
This one’s a cinch. It is easy to see myself in this mirror, right there among the disciples who got into a discussion about who was the greatest. They had done this before. They had this argument right after Jesus’ transfiguration. Right after his brief moment of glory. And they still didn’t get it.
Neither do we. Ours is a world of comparisons, and we constantly jockey for position. Who’s happier? Who’s prettier? Who’s got more money? Who has more fun? Who’s got a bigger church? Who makes better food? Who’s smarter? Who’s kids are smarter? Who’s in better shape?
Which disciple was the greatest? The first one Jesus called? The one he handed the bread to first? The ones sitting closest to him? The ones who gave up their businesses to follow him? The strongest one? The ones with the loudest voices?
That’s our world. Everything is a competition. “I was first.” “I won.” “Shotgun!” “I beat you.” “You lose!” Employee of the month. MVP. “Mom always liked you more.” “I’m taller than you.”
Why is that? Why is it so important to be the best? That’s who gets the prize. You’ve got to place in the top three or you get nothing (except maybe an honorable mention certificate). If you can’t make it to the podium, you could have just stayed home.
When one of my daughters did competitive cheerleading, the coaches had a strategy for making sure the team brought home a first place trophy. They would enter the team into a division that no one else was in. Something like “Small Coed Novice under-12 over-11.” Guess what? They always finished first. They got to hang up another championship banner at the gym.
Jesus has to straighten out the disciples and us. True, in the non-believing world you’ve got to come out on top. But that’s not the way we do it around here. The one who serves is the greatest. That’s exactly what Jesus has done for them. He has just served them a Passover meal. Like a server at a restaurant. The path to the top means becoming the least. Just like Jesus, who humbled himself and became everybody’s servant and everybody’s savior.
I don’t have to be the greatest. Jesus doesn’t love me because I’m the best. He just loves me.
You’re the greatest Jesus. Amen.