Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Day 1 :: Ash Wednesday :: The Greatest

“When the hour came, 
Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table.” 
Luke 22:14 

Imagine the scene. It is the last meal Jesus will share with His closest friends. In just a few days, He will find Himself gasping for His next breath as He hangs on the cross, bearing the sin and shame of all of humanity. If you were Jesus, what would you have shared with such dear companions at your last meal? Suppose you were one of the disciples at the table. For three years you have followed in His footsteps, the very dust of His sandals embedded into your cloak. You have seen Him teach, heal the sick, and now He sits before you on the verge of tears. What would be going through your mind? Would you try to offer words of comfort or encouragement? What do you say when your Mentor tells you He is soon going to die? 

It was in such a tear-filled setting that an actual argument broke out among Jesus’ closest friends.  The Gospel of Luke tells us “a dispute also arose among them (the disciples) as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.” (Luke 22:24) This is a sort of déjà vu moment for Luke. The last time Jesus tried to tell the disciples about His impending suffering, “an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” (Luke 9:45) 

Some may be more accomplished at hiding their inner motives than others, but we all must confront and wrestle with our desires for greatness. Muhammad Ali’s signature line captures how so many of us think: “I am the greatest.”  Boxing promoter Don King was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “I never cease to amaze myself,” and then added, “I say that humbly.”* How would that sound if he were to say it with pride? “We have all, in our own way,” writes John Ortberg “been trying to take God’s 
place ever since Eden.”* 

Lent is a time when we specifically think about who Christ is and remind ourselves of who we are not.  As we reflect on His greatness, we are reminded of our desperate need of a Savior. Lent is a time when we come to grips with the truth that our feeble attempts to control our little world are just that – feeble. It is a time when we step down from our self-made thrones and bow before the one true and eternal God. Lent is a season when we ask God to sift our hidden desires, measure our motives, 
and purify our passions. 

Prayer: “God, forgive me for the ways I’ve placed my own desires and ambitions 
ahead of  You.  Spirit of  God, as I walk with Jesus toward the Cross, show me what 
You need to teach me.”

(*As quoted in, John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, 111
, 108.) 

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