October 11 – Luke 9:46-50

Friday, October 11, 2013

Luke 9:46-50 – True Greatness

Those same disciples who did not understand Jesus’ words about his betrayal in the previous verses (Luke 9:44-45), now are having a heated discussion about which of them would be the greatest. These men had experienced great miracles with Jesus. They had gone out among the people and performed miracles on their own. Three of them had been present when Elijah and Moses showed up at the Transfiguration. They were still on a high from that experience and believed more of themselves than was appropriate.

Their very humanness continues to show through with everything they say.

Jesus didn't hear them speaking, but he knew what they were discussing. He was fully aware of their thoughts as the Son of God. It was time to correct them and bring them back under his wing.

He brought a child forward. This is not a young boy who has achieved manhood, but a child. A child has no place in the hierarchy of the community. Children were loved and cared for, but they were not respected. Jesus set his disciples back when he told them that anyone who welcomed that child, welcomed him. Not only that … those who welcome the child also welcomed the one who sent Jesus.

Jesus identifies greatness with humility … an ability to swallow one’s pride, set aside dignity and learn to identify with the lowest of the community, to care for them and treat them with respect. He continues to attempt to teach his disciples that he is heading for the cross – they refuse to listen.

The next thing that occurs is John’s complaint about a man who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. He wasn’t anyone that was part of their circle. These men continued to have feelings of self-importance. They believed in the privilege that came from being one of the Twelve.  Jesus had yet to get through to them that their position was not one of privilege, but a call to suffering and humility.

Remember when the father of the boy with evil spirits complained that the disciples failed to drive the demon out of his son? How offended must they have been that there was someone out there who wasn't part of the privileged few – the Twelve – who was actually succeeding. Jesus’ words that “whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50b) express the fact that God will not be bound by man’s regulations. The Twelve Disciples will continue to face this issue as the Church begins to grow. How do we limit the work of God? Who will be greater among us? Who will be powerful?

Humility and grace are lessons that Jesus had difficulty teaching his disciples and are lessons we continue to find impossible to learn.