An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
In the early 1990’s my wife and I were visiting my dad and his family in Las Vegas, Nevada. While we were out there, a championship professional fight was scheduled at Caesars Palace.
We didn’t have tickets to the fight – those were well beyond our financial means. But we could go down to the casino and walk around during and after the fight just to experience the myriad of people.
As we walked by one of the more quiet corners of the casino, I looked over at a small group of people and there, sitting in the center of the group on a stool, was a somewhat elderly black man “holding forth.”
We walked over and I held out my hand and said hello. He stood up and we looked eye-to-eye as he shook my hand with a warm smile on his face.
We were both about the same height, but I remember him being so much bigger than I.
I think it was his confidence and attitude that made him bigger than me.
After all, this is the man who boldly proclaimed, “I AM THE GREATEST!!!”
We chit-chatted for a few seconds then we moved on and left him alone.
I haven’t met that many famous people in my life, but of the ones I have, Muhammed Ali stands out in my mind as the most memorable!
About 2000 years before Ali proclaimed to be “THE GREATEST”, Jesus’ disciples argued about who among them was the greatest.
None of them had won a gold medal or held the title of “heavyweight champion of the world.” None of them was the leader of a country. None of them was one of the richest men in the world. None of them invented a life- or world-changing device.
In fact, the Scripture isn’t really clear on why they were arguing over who among them was the greatest. It doesn’t give us any standards they were using to measure their greatness by.
But Jesus steps into the argument and settles it once and for all time!
Jesus calls a child to himself and I can picture Jesus turning the child around to face the arguing disciples and resting his hands on his or her shoulders.
The child is not the greatest, either, however. Jesus isn’t about to say that children or being child-like will make them great.
Instead, Jesus points out a truth that needs to be understood all the more today, considering the cultural climate we find in the world.
“Greatness” – as defined by Jesus – is attained by being least among all people. I believe what Jesus means is that we serve others first, rather than ourselves and our own self-interests.
“Receiving” a child in the name of Jesus means stooping down from our lofty perch of selfishness and meeting the needs of others – any others.
That’s what Jesus did, after all! He is the Second Person of the Trinity! He is the only-begotten Son of God, through whom the entire universe was created!
Yet Jesus gave it all up and literally humbled himself – became a human being – in order to take all our sins as his own and pay the full and complete punishment we deserve because of them.
In response to this amazing love, we are to receive any and all people in Jesus’ name. Not in order to achieve greatness, but in order to proclaim the greatness – and love – of God.
The world will not consider you great when you do this. But that’s not the goal, is it.
God will consider you great and, in his love, will call you his own child and welcome you into his great – and eternal – kingdom!
©2017 True Men Ministries