Who is the Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1–4 

Life is competitive, isn’t it? Even during the time of Jesus, people strove to be the best. Just look at the disciples’ questions, “Who is the greatest?”

Maybe the disciples were hoping that Jesus would name one of them as the greatest. Then the others would be jealous and jockey for position.

We all want to be great at something. I know I do. Here is how I know that I am competitive: I compare myself to others. 

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I do.

Pastor Paul reminds us in his letter to the church of Galatia not to play the “I am the greatest” game.

Paul writes, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:4-5

I shouldn’t be worried if I am the greatest at anything! First, I am not. Second, I am looking at the wrong thing. 

The question I should be asking is this, “Am I better than I used to be?” I need to compare myself with myself. Am I making progress in my faith walk compared to last week, last month or last year?

The disciples were asking the wrong question and Jesus clarifies.

Jesus picks the most unlikely person from the crowd and says, “be like them.”

Like I said, the disciples expected Jesus to point to one of the disciples and say, “He’s the greatest. Yep, its this guy.” Instead, Jesus finds a child and says this, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

That was not the answer they were looking for. They wanted Jesus to pick one of them. The one who asked the question secretly hoped it was him, I bet. 

Instead, Jesus uplifts humility as a core quality of the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t connected the dots, the question itself was prideful. 

In essence, Jesus was telling the disciples not to worry about who is the greatest. God doesn’t care about such things. Rather, to be humble and keep moving forward in life.

Jesus and Saint Paul remind us to worry about ourselves. To use slang, “You do you.” You will never be anyone else so stop comparing your life to someone else’s. Be the best version of yourself and give God the credit.

God bless you,

Pr. Ben

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