Who is the greatest? Who is the greatest Christian in the world? Which one of us in this room is the greatest disciple of Jesus Christ?
As Lutherans we know the folly of such questions. We know good and well that Jesus should slap us upside the head for asking things like that. As Christians we are not to be haughty or prideful. We are not to clamor or argue over who is the greatest.
Rather we are to be humble. We are to think nothing of ourselves, never asserting our spiritual superiority, always letting others, especially Jesus take the spotlight. We would never ask something as pretentious as, “Which one of us is the greatest?”
Rather, our question would be, “Which one of us is the humblest?” Come on Jesus, tell us truthfully, aren’t I more humble than that guy over there? Isn’t my humility far more impressive than hers? Lord, I thank you that I am not arrogant or haughty, like so many of those other Christians out there.
Augh! Even humility is not a safe place to hide from the sin of spiritual one-up-man-ship. We may have repented of our desire to be the greatest, only to fall into the trap of desiring to be the least, in order to be the greatest. We sin by taking pride in being humble.
But we shouldn’t, take pride in our humility that is. And the disciples were certainly fools for arguing about who was the greatest. We are all fools as the followers of Jesus for wondering who is the greatest in knowledge, authority, power, or humility. The answer, it would seem, should be staring us right in the face. JESUS CHRIST is the greatest!
What had Jesus just finished saying before His disciples were arguing who the greatest was? “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He is killed, after three days He will rise.”
Jesus just told His disciples that He will die and RISE! Guys, disciples, I am going to conquer death! I will be dead and then I will come back. Who do you think is the greatest?!
Jesus, God in the flesh, submits to death. God died. That makes Jesus far more humble than you or I could ever even fathom. Jesus conquered death, rising on the third day. That makes Him greater than the greatest. In fact, compared to Jesus Christ in the number one spot, number two in greatness or humility might as well be all the way down with number 200 billion. There simply is no comparison.
Jesus is not only God. He is also Man, the True Man, the one whom all others aspire to be, the one all others fail to be. Jesus Christ is the greatest man who ever lived and who ever will live. And it is a complete waste of our time to try and compare ourselves with each other living in His shadow.
Rather, in faith, we receive the fullness of Christ's greatness and humility. It is laid over our sin, our pride and arrogance, that we may share in the fullness of the treasures of heaven.