The Book of Luke, Who is the Greatest? Part II - Lesson 124
Luke 9:46-48, Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. 47And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 48And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. 49And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
Luke places this event next to the preceding account in order to show the earthly thoughts that occupied the hearts of the disciples concerning the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
It shows that the disciples still do not grasp the reality of the coming death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
For they have thoughts of earthly greatness which does not mesh with the death of the king of the kingdom.
He had previously said ďLet these sayings sink into your earsĒ but there was no room for his sayings because their ears were filled with their own sayings, their own reasoningís.
The disciples were engaged in reasoning about which among them should be the greatest.
This is a question that comes from a heart that has a competitive spirit.
This is a question from a heart that desires to reckon one against another.
This is reasoning that wishes to place each of the disciples in an order of greatness from the least to the greatest.
By Christís answer to the disciples we are to learn that the kingdom of Jesus Christ does not have this spirit of competitiveness.
And the answer that Jesus gives reflects this for he does not say that he that is least among you all is the greatest but he says that he that is least among you all shall be great.
This means that anyone in the kingdom of God can be great.
For greatness comes from a humble spirit, a spirit who does not measure himself or compare himself among those around him and does not measure himself by those to whom he ministers.
By teaching a lesson with a child Jesus Christ seems to indicate that the disciples were measuring greatness by who was being ministered to.
Perhaps Peter, James and John saw themselves as ministering to the Lord in a closer way than the other nine disciples.
But the Lord Jesus Christ by bringing ministry to a child into the picture casts out the notion that thinking of yourself as significant because of who you minister to is against the message of Christ and is a worldly point of view.
But this seems to be the viewpoint of the disciples here for the Lord uses children who are usually thought of as insignificant, for what can a child do for you?
What kind of power does a child have?
How much money can a child have in his or her piggy bank?
A child is not a giver but a taker.
How much of our ministry is done with the thought of return for our services?
How much so called love is given with the thought of receiving a equal amount in return and if we donít get an equal amount in return we cease to love.
And in this the standards of measurement are very strict and precise.
Not a ounce of love given unless an ounce of love is returned.
But in reality that kind of love is not Godly love.
It does not go unnoticed among pastors who has the biggest church, the wealthiest church, the fastest growing church, the most up and coming congregation.
Donít you suppose the congregation with the most doctors, the most lawyers, the most professional people who can give large amounts is noticed among their peers?
Donít you think many pastors compare themselves among themselves trying to place in their own minds where they fit into the hierarchy of their denomination or their group?
They may not be as honest as the disciples were to reason out loud but they reason quietly in their own minds and compare themselves among themselves to see who is the greatest.
But Jesus taught that it does not matter to whom you minister because all ministry should be ministry to Christ and for Christ.
To welcome a child is to welcome Jesus Christ.
To serve a child is to serve Jesus Christ.
Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
Here is a lesson which needs to be learned by all of us.
A red flag needs to be raised in your mind when you start thinking and longing for a significant ministry based upon ministering to the significant.
A red flag should be hoisted to point out pride when a seemingly unimportant ministry is offered and thought of as below your abilities.
Jesus is telling us that there is no unimportant ministry in the kingdom of God for all ministry, if done in obedience to Godís will, boils down to ministry to Christ.
Just remember that the church is the body of Christ.
As your body performs its functions who is it performing functions for?
Your hands are doing your will.
Your feet are doing your will.
If parts of your body no longer do your will they are cut out and discarded.
And likewise Christ, the head, expects his body to do his will in his name and if his will is done in that manner it is service to Christ.
Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me:
Whosoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me.
This is the great leveler to ministry, for ministry done in Jesus name is ministry to Christ and will be received as such.
All the least among us shall be great.
God gave you your abilities and if he chooses to use those abilities in the service of the insignificant that is his business.
If he chooses to use you in the far corner unnoticed and un-praised throughout your life that is His business.
You may be the back hall light, you may be the night light which helps keep toes from being stubbed in the middle of the night or you may be the main chandelier lighting a mansion and noticed and praised by all.
But when you connect your own status with the Lord, based upon the status of whom you minister to, you can know by this scripture that the Lord rebukes you for worldly and non Kingdom of Christ thinking.
For it is only competition and ambition concealed in a cloak of piety.
Your heart may proclaim ďI want to do great things for the LordĒ but that may simply mean, ďI want to be noticed by men.Ē
The proper ambition is to want to do Godís will regardless of where that leads whether it be the back hall or in the mansion.
Jesus is saying here that serving children is just as important as serving those whom the world calls significant.
Luke gives us a glimpse of this competitive spirit that lodged in the hearts of the disciples by telling us of the activity of another disciple of Christ but not a part of the twelve.
49And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
As far as the twelve were concerned no one outside the little group close to Jesus Christ had the right or had been given power and authority to cast out devils.
Here, they pointed out, was one who did not have the right franchise.
Here was one who did not have the stamp of approval of the in-crowd nor did they have their endorsement.
This was a non‑franchised, non‑ordained, non‑approved exorcist as far as the disciples were concerned.
He did not have the right brand upon him, so the disciples were upset.
Probably did not go to the right schools either.
Apparently the disciples were not successful in stopping this exorcist, for they tell the Lord that they tried to stop him.
I would like to meet this man who continued doing the Lordsí will in spite of the opposition of the twelve and their lack of endorsement.
It took a lot of courage to do so didnít it?
Many would have folded under such an onslaught.
It is also interesting that this group of disciples who fought with one another for position also resisted anyone else having a successful ministry.
If they were unable to successfully cast out a demon, why should they allow this ďoutsiderĒ to do so?
They were being shown up!
Jesus responded by rebuking the disciples, reminding them that anyone who was not against them, anyone who was doing right in His name, was no enemy.
This is for our learning.
We are not the only ones who are doing Godís work.
Elijah was reminded of this when he whined to the Lord in I Kings 19, and I use that word whine for thatís what it was.
Whining is simply the physical evidence of self pity.
The Lord said: What doest thou here, Elijah? 14And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. 17And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
These passages are to remind us that God has his faithful people and we ought not to think that we are the only ones still standing in the gap.
All that caters to is pride and thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.