Mar. 1, 2012
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.
With a group of 12 people, there will often be 12 opinions. So it sometimes was with Jesus’ disciples. Some of the disciples knew each other before they were called by Jesus to be in his small group. Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers. They were from the Sea of Galilee and fishermen. James and John, also fisherman, were brothers. I’m guessing the fishing docks around the Sea of Galilee were small enough the brothers knew each other.
In case you don’t have siblings, let me share a sibling secret. We don’t always agree. Well, at least that’s how it was in the house where I grew up. Sometimes my family members have strong opinions. I realize not every family may have as opinionated members as mine.
Should it surprise us that the disciples reduced their dinner discussion to who was the greatest? Let’s overhear a few other “greatest” conversations:
On the school play ground: “I’m the fastest runner.” “No, I am.” “No you’re not.” “Yes I am.” “Well, my momma can run faster than your momma.” “Doesn’t matter. Your momma isn’t pretty like my momma.”
Group of young moms: “I had the most awful night ever. None of my kids slept.” “That’s nothing. Mine didn’t nap yesterday or sleep last night.” “Well, you don’t know what it’s like to be a single mom.” “No, and you don’t know what it’s like to have a lazy husband. He’s another child to take care of.”
At the nursing home: “I had to walk a mile to school every day and a mile home.” “Well, I had to walk two miles to school every day. I’m from northern Wisconsin where we always had six feet of snow.” “I had to walk over two miles, each direction uphill. With no shoes.”
Three CEO’s: “Our profit for last month was 10%! Finally, things are turning around.” “When are you going to get your act together? We’ve already had 10% growth for three months in a row.” “Our profit sharing checks for last year were the biggest ever. Soon, everyone will expect us to always have that kind of profit every year.”
At a clergy gathering: “It’s been such a stressful month. I’ve had two funerals.” “I had three funerals and the organist quit.” “One of our furnaces broke down. A teen was caught looking up porn on a church computer and my 16-year-old daughter is pregnant. Try to up my life.”
Isn’t it interesting how our “greatests” are often defined by either how difficult life has been, the rotten situations we are working through or what great accomplishments we’ve achieved.
What did the disciples use for their measuring stick, for what was the greatest? Who healed the most? Caught the most fish? Understood Jesus’ mystifying teachings the best? Brought the most people to one of Jesus’ teaching times? Been ridiculed the most? Is the farthest from his family?
What would our families look like if we stopped trying to be the “best” and instead simply loved? How would our communities change if we could drop multiple generation rivalries? Why do we put so much energy into being the “greatest” rather than helping someone who isn’t the greatest?
What would Jesus prefer us to focus on instead of being the greatest? We’ll find out his answer tomorrow.
Let us pray: How strong, O Lord, are our desires, how weak our knowledge of ourselves! Release in us those healing truths unconscious pride resists or shelves. Amen.