In this passage we start out with this argument about who the greatest among them is. Keep in mind this directly follows Jesus telling about His soon to come death. They thought that they needed to determine who was the greatest… a selfish act of prideful people. This is why Jesus responds already knowing the reasoning of their hearts. It is a simple picture of a group of people missing the main thing because of themselves.
Then we see something that is very applicable to us today. John is upset about people casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He is upset about this because they aren’t part of the gang. This is prevalent today because of how often we see other churches doing great things for the kingdom, and instead of praising that and thanking God for it we condemn them, and point out the ways they do things differently than us. We criticize how they do things when the reality is that Jesus says if they aren’t against you then they are for you. We get caught up in our own selfish views or opinions and we miss the big picture of the Gospel and the Glory of God.
In verses 51-56 there is a group of Samaritans who didn’t accept Jesus because they were so convinced of their religion and traditions that they couldn’t see the relationship that was offered. The disciples were ready to rain fire on them, but they were rebuked by Jesus. This happens because they couldn’t see past their desires and pride. They were upset that things didn’t go the way they wanted. They felt that it was an insult to Jesus, but the reality is that Jesus is so much greater than that.
Lastly there are several people who want to follow Jesus but are not willing to make the sacrifice. Jesus explains that there are things that will have to be given up, because all worship belongs to Him. The people were not willing to let go in order to follow. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.
How often do we fall into any of these categories? The bottom line is that we get in the way of what God want for us. We blame it on others, circumstances, and even God. But the truth is that if we really look at it, we are simply choosing something besides God.
By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate