Studying the last week of Jesus’ ministry on earth prior to His crucifixion is always a source of encouragement and inspiration. It also offers a snapshot of how restlessness and ambition drive people to do and say ill-advised things.
Read Luke 22:14-30 and think about Jesus’ emotions as He hears His disciples argue during this solemn meal over who among them should be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24). Why did the disciples get sidetracked from this momentous occasion and focus on human greatness?
We seldom discuss with others who is the greatest in our church, our family, or our workplace. We may think about it a lot, but who, really, openly talks about it?
This was not the first time that this question was raised in the community of Jesus’ followers. Matthew 18:1 reports the disciples’ bringing the question to Jesus and framing it in a more abstract way: “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (NKJV). Jesus’ answer involves an object lesson. After calling a child, he sets the child in the center of the group. Eyes are opened wide; eyebrows are raised. Jesus’ action requires an explanation, and in Matthew 18:3 the Master offers that, too: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (NKJV).
Conversion is foundational for finding true rest in Jesus. We recognize that we need outside help. We suddenly realize that we cannot depend on ourselves but need to rely on Jesus. We experience a transformation of our values and ambitions. Jesus tells His disciples: Trust Me and rely on Me like this child. True greatness is giving up your rights and embracing kingdom values.
Unfortunately, it seems that the disciples had not yet learned this lesson by the time Jesus ate the last supper with them. Their bickering and infighting ruined a moment of perfect communion that was never to be repeated.
All this, even after years of being with Jesus, ministering with Jesus, and hearing and learning at His feet? What a sad example of just how corrupt the human heart remains! On the more positive side, however, think about the ever-present reality of the Lord’s grace, that despite this pathetic discussion among His followers, Jesus didn’t give up on them.
|Why should keeping our focus on Jesus on the cross be a powerful remedy against the desire for self-exaltation, which, as fallen human beings, all of us are prey to?|