I Am Greater Than You

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I am greater than you.

Even if we aren’t aware of it, we say it all the time, in different ways to multiple people.

Kids say it on the playground.

Teenagers express it through segregation at lunchtime.

Adults express it when they drive off of the new car lot.

Pastors, deacons, teachers, and worship leaders convey it in their attitudes toward each other and toward others in the church.

I am greater than you.

Huge ministries sometimes fall because of leadership corruption and abuse, small church plants often begin out of spite, and confusing divisiveness invades the worship services, Bible studies, and prayer times of countless congregations. And all the while, the unchurched learn more about our vindictiveness and positional desires than our Christlike compassion and concern for their eternal destiny. What they see is the Body of Christ pointing fingers at each other, declaring to the world and the rest of the church:

I am greater than you.

Jesus had the same problem with His disciples. Shortly after His transfiguration, Luke reports that His disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 9:46 NLT).

I first heard this story when I was a child in the 70’s. I envisioned the disciples walking behind Jesus, saying “I’m greater than you and you and I’m certainly greater than you.Even as an elementary student, it seemed so childish and stupid to me that the disciples were standing right behind Jesus, God the Son, and they had the audacity to argue with each other and say:

I am greater than you.

I love how Jesus handled the situation:

But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He brought a little child to His side. Then He said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” (Luke 9:47-48)

In Jesus’ day, children were not regarded as highly as they are today. This helps us see that He was saying that whoever welcomes and is willing to serve the lowest of the low welcomes and serves God Himself. It’s not hard to discern that this is not an attitude most often exhibited from those who want to exalt themselves over others.

The apostles learned this lesson when James and John asked Jesus if they could sit on His right and His left in the kingdom. The Bible reports that the other disciples were angry with these brothers because of their request.

“So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His live as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45)

Jesus, the greatest person who has ever lived, took on Himself the attitude and position of a servant. He did this, even though He could have looked at us all and said:

I am greater than you.

If Jesus, the Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve others, shouldn’t we be able to do the same with each other and with the world around us. If we do, we’ll be showing the world and other Christians that we believe:

He is greater than us

*Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash