The Greatest Grace

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 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 9:46-47 (NIV)

[Jesus said,]“The Son of Man will die in the way that has been decided for him, but it will be terrible for the one who betrays him!”
23 Then the apostles started arguing about who would ever do such a thing.
24 The apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest. 25 So Jesus told them:
Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends. 26 But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant.         Luke 22:22-26 (CEV)

In the late 1960’s there was a comedy team called The Smothers Brothers that had a TV show. They actually were brothers who frequently did a routine around the statement, “Mama loved me best!” Whether it is our earthly parents, a teacher, or entire church or denomination who believe “God loves us best!” it seems to be in our human nature to determine who is the greatest.

All three synoptic gospels record the disciples arguing among themselves about who is the greatest. Luke records that it happened twice! Jesus responds quickly and with very pointed examples.

First He uses a child. In society of that day, a child was considered property much like a horse or lamb. A child was to be silent in the presence of adults and defer to them in all things. Jesus says that whoever cares for a child, indeed cares for anyone who is weak and thought unimportant or insignificant like a child, is caring for Him. The least among us are the most important.

Then Jesus turns the eyes of His disciples to the kings and those in power, like High Priests. Anyone who has power is not to use power for his/her own gain but instead serve and care for those for whom they have power over. True leaders are to be servants to those they lead. These were radical and never before imagine concepts. They still are.

My daughter told me a story yesterday. She injured her wrist at work and it began to bother her with pain and loss of range of motion. She took her children to church that evening for activities which included prayer ministry. The children are taught about prayer and encouraged to pray for others. Janet asked the adult leader if the children could pray for her regarding her hand. Two young children (under the age of 10) bowed their heads and asked God to heal and restore health to Janet’s hand. God has answered that prayer. When we think of asking for prayer, do we go to the pastor first? Is his/her prayer “greater”?

Jesus, LORD God Almighty, came to earth, was born in a barn manger and lived a life as a carpenter’s son. He chose twelve common men to teach for three years about His Heavenly Father and the plan for us to make it possible to have eternal life with Him. He relied on those twelve to spread the Good News throughout the whole world. There was no Plan B to fall back on great teachers or kings. From the beginning God covered every piece of His plan with His grace, His extravagant love that would confirm to us that His lessons in humility and principle that those who served would be great in His Kingdom were true. Jesus did not come as a king to save me but as a servant.

And Can It Be original written by Charles Wesley (1738), now sung by Lindell Cooley

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in my Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
And if was for me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?

He left his Father’s throne above
so free, so infinite, so infinite his love!
He emptied himself of all but love,
and He died and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
I was fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
But thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
And when I awoke, the dungeon was flaming with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?

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