Ever wonder what it must have been like to be asked by Jesus Himself to be one of His disciples, to become one of His closest friends. Out of the throngs of people who flocked to Him, He singled you out and chose you to be one of only twelve, to be His closest companions. Day after day, multitudes gathered around Him, listening to His words or seeking His healing touch. Yet, when the crowds dispersed at the end of the day, you were privileged to have personal time with Him. In our day, it might be like traveling with a well-known musician. At his or her concerts, thousands sing along as faithful fans. But when the show is over and the crowds are gone, you get to sit down with the musician for a quiet cup of coffee.
I’m sure I’d be no different, but it baffles me to read how the disciples would argue among themselves which of them was greatest. Really? In the presence of One who can multiply food, or turn water to wine, or command sickness and demons to leave, these guys are concerned about a pecking order among themselves?! I guess they had lost some of the amazement of Jesus’ authority and power. They became too casual in their relationship with Him.
Why do we compare ourselves to others? Why do we care how others value us? Our world measures greatness by a person’s net worth or popularity or position. However, God uses a different method to measure greatness. Mark 9:33-35 records Jesus’ comments after a day of traveling, “‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. To this Jesus said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” God evaluates greatness based upon how we serve one another.
Luke 9:46-48 records another time the disciples were bickering, “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 he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.’” In that day, children were not highly valued, but God evaluates greatness based upon how you treat the less fortunate and overlooked among us.
It really doesn’t matter what others think of me. I certainly want people to like me, but at the end of life, the only one whose opinion matters is God’s. What does He think of me? Has He been important in my daily life or has He been of little consequence to me? Did I live a self-directed life or did I seek His will? Did I concern myself with promoting my own reputation or His?
Even on my best days, I fall short of God’s character and perfection. God isn’t impressed with my actions or thoughts, but He is impressed with those of the Lord Jesus. As Mark 10:45 says, “He [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, alone, has made it possible to have a loving personal relationship with God. For this reason, God’s evaluation of each of us revolves around one question, ”What have you done with Jesus?”