The Greatest

The Greatest

There is an ongoing debate among sports fans and sports media, who is the greatest? Of course, we need an acronym for this and we do, it’s GOAT (greatest of all time). The debate asks questions such as, is Tom Brady the greatest NFL quarterback? Is Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player, or is it LeBron? Is Roger Federer the greatest tennis player ever? Or is it Rafael Nadal? Or Rod Laver? Is Sidney Crosby the greatest hockey player? Are the Golden State Warriors the greatest NBA team or is it the Jordan years Chicago Bulls? What determines the greatest, is it statistics, overall wins, championship wins? There is no end in sight for the ongoing GOAT debate.

As a believer in Christ, the debate of who is the greatest is a no brainer! Our God is the greatest! God’s Word tells us many times about how great He is. Here are a few examples to help us understand:

  1. “There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might.”
  2. “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You”
  3. “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods”
  4. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all”
  5. “Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and compassionate God”
  6. For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears”

Jesus’ disciples may have had one of the first ever GOAT discussions. An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart” . . . . They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” .

Jesus is trying to open a conversation with the disciples. Some think based on how the text is constructed that Jesus was repeatedly asking them this question. The next verse, , reveals also based on how the text is constructed that the disciples repeatedly ignored His question with the phrase “kept silent”. But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. .

The disciples did not want to answer Jesus! They must have been embarrassed. Just imagine the tension that must have existed in the room when Jesus asked them this question, “What were you discussing on the way?” They did not want to answer that question! reveals that Jesus knew all along what the disciples had been arguing about. They had been discussing who was the greatest among themselves. reveals that finally the disciples did answer and after some discussion they finally asked Jesus a question, “Who then is the greatest . . .” At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 

The gospel of Mark reveals that Jesus called the disciples to come closer and then asked another question, sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them,

“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

Serving others is the key to greatness. We are proud men and women who love applause and approval. We love to be served and praised. Pride is a core problem in just about every human relationship, interaction and conflict. Our problem is that we think too much of ourselves and too little about others. In we are told to not be selfish, conceited, but to be humble and to prefer others over ourselves. Our sense of value or worth should come from an understanding that it is God who loves us and lavished upon us undeserved grace. The disciples wanted their own glory and so do we today. Are you seeking the praise and approval of people or looking to serve and give God all the praise and glory?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Jesus said this during the Sermon on the Mount. There are 2 verses in Isaiah that are similar in meaning to the poverty of spirit that Jesus was speaking about.

“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite” –

“For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. –

Poverty of spirit is the personal acknowledgement of spiritual bankruptcy, the conscience confession of unworth before a great Holy God. This confession is that I am sinful and rebellious and utterly not worthy to be in the presence of our holy God. It is a statement of my need for God, a humble admission of being totally lost without Him

Heavenly Father, you are great, only you are the greatest! Great is your name, great is your faithfulness, great is your compassion, grace and mercy! You are greatly to be praised! Lord Jesus how humbling it is to know that you were willing to suffer and die on a cross for my sake. You taught us to serve others and to love others more than ourselves. You were never prideful, you served selflessly to the point of death. Forgive me for the sin of pride in my life, help me to love and serve like you did. By your grace may I live out your example of being a servant and not seeking gain for myself and teach me the joy of surrender to you and the blessing of obedience, to be poor in spirit. Amen

There is none like you, O Lord;
you are great, and your name is great in might. (ESV)

17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (ESV)

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be held in awe above all gods. (ESV)

11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (ESV)

31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (ESV)

22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (ESV)

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side (ESV)

33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” (ESV)

34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (ESV)

34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (ESV)

47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side (ESV)

18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (ESV)

18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (ESV)

35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (ESV)

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (ESV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)

15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. (ESV)

All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word. (ESV)