And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest. (Luke 9:46 ASV)
The disciples had been busy. Most of them had been left behind to manage the ministry while Jesus took a break for prayer, accompanied by Peter, James, and John. Things had not gone well, and an upset father confronted Jesus upon His return with the news of their failure. His son had a demon causing convulsions and they had not been able to remove it. Jesus intervened, removed the demon, and healed the child.
Afterwards, He spoke to the disciples about the importance of remembering the things He had taught them. He would be arrested and they would need to carry on. They didn't understand and they didn't ask questions. No one wanted to know what He meant, nor what was to come.
Some time after this exchange, a disagreement broke out among the disciples. They were discussing which of them was greatest. When you think about it, this was a crazy argument. Who was greatest? Jesus was. There should have been no argument about that. The question then became which of them was second greatest.
There were two groups. The larger group had just failed miserably in the area of healing and miracles. The second group, made up of Peter, James, and John had just slept through the transfiguration, waking only as Moses and Elijah, Jesus' heavenly visitors, were departing. It is pretty clear that neither group had much cause for celebration. If they had seen themselves as they were, with all their flaws and failures, I'm not sure they would have found much about which to argue. Who was greatest? None of them.
The disciples had a problem from which we all suffer, and it's called pride. They saw the good in themselves and the negative in the others. Their skewed opinions caused unnecessary friction in the group. A clear understanding of their own heart would have eliminated all cause for argument, but they saw what they wanted to see, much as we do. Those flawed disciples had much good in them, but they also needed to grow and mature. Years later, these same men would evangelize the world with the good news of Jesus, but they had a long way to go before that would happen.
Most of us have that same pride problem. It may not manifest in the same way, but it's a common affliction. There's a common solution, too. When we see ourselves as we are in comparison to who Christ is, our self-importance begins to fade. We would do well to ask God to show us our own hearts. When we see our sin in comparison to the spotless Lamb of God, there is no doubt. Who is the greatest? Jesus. Only Jesus.
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Link to last night's post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-wonder-dogs-get-bath.html