Who’s the Best?
Who’s the best? We’re almost obsessed with that question. In our world today, contests are a normal part of life. Who can run the fastest? Who can jump the farthest? Who can score the most points, block the most goals, sink the most baskets…? And it’s all over our TV screens. Who will win the next election? Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? -- Who will be the sole Survivor? Competition. It’s all around us, and I have the feeling things were not much different with Jesus' disciples.
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" ~ Matthew 18:1
Sounds almost comical, doesn’t it? Now if you remember, it wasn’t that long ago that we saw these very disciples: 1) miss the boat trying to walk on water, 2) question the "Provider" about provisions for the crowds, and 3) flunk “demonic deliverance 101”. And now they come to him, en masse it seems, and want to know which of them has “dibs” on greatness in His Kingdom. How would you have handled this question? As usual, Jesus gave the perfect answer.
Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."~ Matthew 18:3, 4
Don't you just love that verse? And don't you just wonder about that particular child, looking back at His mother for a subtle nod of approval, seeing big burly men staring with their mouths hanging open. And then probably his eyes rested on Jesus, the One who had called him. I can just imagine the look that this little guy saw there, in those eyes… the peace… the acceptance… the love. And I think that look probably stayed with him for the rest of his life.
What Jesus wants us to see is what He saw when He looked at this child. Jesus saw innocence. He saw humility. He saw trust. All of which the renowned disciples had no great abundance of at the time. Jesus said it’s not about the size of our shadows; it’s about the shadow on our heart called “pride”.
It’s so easy for us, as adults, to explain away our worry as concern; to view our own selfishness as strength. We must beware of that kind of “strength”. Oswald Chambers once said that what we often call “strength,” God sees as “stubborn weakness”... holding on to control… trying to be the parent in our Parent-child relationship with God.
The disciples were asking Jesus who would rank highest in Heaven. Jesus answered the real question they should've asked, “Who would be welcomed in Heaven?”
Only those who, with child-like faith, turn from their sins and trust God humbly, honestly, completely.
And that’s the best any of us can do.