Increasing and Decreasing
It astonished me that though the first disciples walked daily with Jesus – that Jesus who as We have been discussing this week is “Jesus is Greater Than ___________.” (you fill in the blank) – though these disciples walked with Him still they argued amongst themselves about which of them was to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke records two instances of this.
The first is in Luke 9. Earlier in this chapter we have the miraculous feeding of 5,000, Peter’s declaration that Jesus Is the Messiah, the astonishing event of the Transfiguration, and the healing of a demonic boy. Twice in this chapter Jesus speaks to His disciples of His coming betrayal and death but they did not understand. Instead, their conversation turns to which of them will be the greatest! In fact, it becomes an out and out argument!!
“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:46-48).
So Jesus sets the standard aright. Greatness in the kingdom of God is not measured by how high you can rise, but on how low you will humble yourself. But a humility which seeks humility as a way to Greatness is no humility at all. True humility never thinks to seek greatness. In fact, true humility is completely unaware of itself; it seeks only to minister to the needs of others.
But then the disciples even dare to raise the matter again!
Jesus has just announced that one of them would betray Him. So uncertain are they of their own hearts that the disciples begin to ask among themselves who the betrayer might be. “Is it I?” each asks (Matt. 26:22).
But then the ugly question rose again… “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24). Again Jesus, troubled as He was about His own impending task, explained to them that the kingdom of God ran on a different economy. “… you are not to be like that [this world’s system of greatness]. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (v. 26).
Jesus is Greater than all. He is God. May we all learn to say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Jan. 5 message.