Exalted, Praiseworthy, Important, Glorious, Renowned, Adored, Magnificent: what comes to mind when you hear these words?
Do you picture somebody who fits one of those titles? Do you think of a place or an event, perhaps a concert or a great speech? Do those words breed aspiration in you? Do you get a great desire to be recognized as a combination of those words? Do you feel a weight in yourself that tells you this is what you want your epitaph to be? The life of moderation, unexcited, un-thrilled, unnoticed seems like less than what you would desire. So, of course, being adored and exalted as magnificent, important, praiseworthy, or even glorious seems like a better alternative. Who wouldn’t want to be recognized?
With this mentality men become fools. Seeking the applause of other men, the promise of fame, and the deceitfulness of wealth, generations of human beings have become the laughing spectacle of centuries past and of entertainment present. I think of the people who don’t know how to sing attempting to do so on nationally broadcasted talent shows. The fear and shame of a rating-obtaining humiliation does not hinder tone-deaf dreamers from entering for the chance at “greatness.”
This pursuit of fame is by no means a new phenomenon. Perhaps the advent of “Reality TV” shows has exaggerated this scenario over the past decade, but the tendency of self-serving men to seek laud and applause of others is a human heart issue that predates the days of Jesus. Jesus’ own disciples succumbed to this self-exalting heart posture. As we read today in verse 35-45, we see the open, self-seeking attitude of James and John and the jealous response of the other ten disciples. This was not a problem reserved to just one or two of the disciples, this self-worship pervaded the entirety of the disciples. They all wanted to be exalted.
Christ lovingly rebuked His disciples and helped them again with their faux definition. They had bought into the world’s view of greatness, and sought to find a place of prominence that superseded that of their peers. Jesus longed for them to understand the message of greatness that He was preaching with His life. So to teach them the deep truth of true greatness again, He stated His mission very clearly. The definition of greatness was bound in this testimony of Jesus: “the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minster, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Greatness was found in serving and in sacrificing, not in seeking your own. Jesus would eventually die to offer the disciples a greater hope of glory far beyond the praise and acceptance that they could ever find here on earth.
Food For Thought: Read Philippians 2:5-11. What does Paul tell us we should do in light of what Jesus has done?