24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:24-30 NIV
I am the greatest! Words spoken by Muhammad Ali, the self-proclaimed greatest fighter of all time, before he became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion at the age of 22. Ali was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions. He was also involved in several historic fights such as the “Thrilla in Manilla” against Joe Frazier and “The Fight of the Century” against George Foreman. Ali was a great boxer, philanthropist, activist, and entertainer but was he the greatest?
In Luke 22:24-30 we read about another historic fight, however this one involved Jesus’ twelve disciples. I like to call this fight “Gloom in the Upper Room”. On this day Jesus had just finished his last supper with his twelve disciples and confided in them that he was about to betrayed by someone sitting at the table.
The disciples begin to talk amongst themselves about who the betrayer may be, but their conversations take a crazy turn and they begin verbally fighting about who is the greatest disciple. Jesus is having a serious conversation about betrayal and death but his friends who have been by his side every day for years start boasting about why each of them feels they are the greatest? Most of us would’ve snapped and said a few choice words to our friends. However, Jesus doesn’t chastise the disciples he uses this as a teaching moment.
In Luke 22:26-27 Jesus teaches his disciples to focus on serving rather than being served. Greatness is not defined by money, power, and prestige. Greatness is not defined by championship trophies and activism. To aspire to be the greatest your question shouldn’t be how can I get a blessing? It should be how can I be a blessing? True greatness is being able to humble yourself and be a selfless servant. Who can you be a blessing to today?