He Who is Least Among You All is the One Who is Great

The disciples want to argue about who is the greatest.

Luke 9:46-50 (ESV)

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

This passage teaches an essential lesson – the kingdom of God couldn’t care less about status. The disciples are arguing over who is number one in their group (and anyone who isn’t even in their group would obviously be second tier.) Jesus totally refutes this nonsense by saying, “he who is least among you all is the one who is great.

Then John pipes up. The Greek is literally, “But John replied.”  “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.

The “but” doesn’t mean John’s making a counter-argument. It’s Luke saying something like, “Here’s another example,” or, “It gets worse.” They actually tried to enforce a hierarchy on the kingdom of God, as if only “the few” are supposed to cast out demons. What’s up with that?

Maybe they’re jealous that this guy can cast out demons, while they can’t. In any case, Jesus patiently notes that they shouldn’t stop someone from doing good works.

He’s obviously a good guy.

The point here is that the big shots in a church are just like everyone else. Church leaders are just doing their job. We have prayer-warrior giants in our midst who have no title. They just pray. Miracles spring from roots such as these. The power of God is unleashed by mere Christians merely following Christ.

Our poisonous culture of star-worship can infect the church. We must fight this at every turn. The kingdom of God has one king and the rest of us are privates in a glorious army.

People serve in a myriad of ways. Some low-profile activities are the most glorious. Sure, church leaders perform essential tasks, but so does everyone else. Exciting stuff happens throughout the body.

One way we can fight against star-worship is to praise people for their service. The king is glorified every time you say, “Thanks.”

And, of course, pray that those who need to be humbled will learn humility, and that everyone will treasure everyone else’s role in the king’s army.

Ask God to give His church a spirit of unity and fellowship.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.