On His journey through Galilee, Christ tried to prepare the minds of His disciples for the scenes before Him.
He told them that He was to go up to Jerusalem to be put to death and to rise again. Jesus added the strange, solemn announcement that He was to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies. The disciples did not comprehend His words. Although the shadow of a great sorrow fell upon them, a spirit of rivalry found a place in their hearts; they disputed among themselves which of them would be greatest. (Luke 9: 46)
This strife they thought to conceal from Jesus, and they did not press close to Jesus’ side as usual but loitered behind, so that he was in front of them as they entered into Capernaum. Jesus perceived the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and set him by Him and said, “Whosoever receives this little child in my name receives me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.” (Luke 9:47-48)
The Savior gathered His disciples around Him, and said, “If any man desires to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”
In these words, there was a solemnity and impressiveness that the disciples were far from comprehending. That which Jesus discerned they could not see. Tenderly, yet with solemn emphasis, Jesus tried to correct their way of thinking. Jesus showed them the kingdom of heaven and what true greatness consists of, according to the word of God. Those who are actuated by pride and love of distinction are thinking only of themselves and of the rewards they were to have, rather than to render back to God the gifts they have received from Him.
Before honor is humility. To fill a high place before men, heaven chooses the worker who, like John the Baptist, takes a lowly place before God. The most childlike disciple is the most efficient in labor for God. The heavenly intelligences can cooperate with him who is seeking not to exalt them, but to see the manifestation of the power of God’s word in the midst of dark world. His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
Jesus explained to the disciples that His kingdom is not characterized by earthly dignity and display. At the feet of Jesus, all these distinctions are forgotten. The rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, meet together with no thoughts of caste or worldly preeminence. All have been redeem by the blood of Jesus.
Harper is the pastor of Emmanuel New Covenant Ministry and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.