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Who is the greatest among the 12 disciples?

Neighbourly Advice According to Ed: Jesus wanted his disciples to learn humble, selfless service to others
The 12 disciples who travelled with Jesus argued among themselves about who was the greatest.

Ed phoned the other day and asked me if I had seen the debate between the national party leaders for the federal election. It was Sept. 12 when he called me. This was before the Sept. 20 election. I told Ed I had watched the debate on the television but wasn’t sure if we should discuss it, as it might be a dangerous thing to do. I warned Ed that it’s said one should not discuss politics, sex or religion at work, at the dinner table or in a public setting. Ed assured me he only wanted to tell me who would be elected prime minister on election day. Ed believes he can predict the future.

Much to Ed’s disappointment, I refused to hear who he predicted to be elected. That way, I wouldn’t hear Ed saying, “I told you so.” If he predicted the wrong winner, I wouldn’t be tempted to say he had a big strikeout rather than a home run.

In an election campaign, there is a great deal of debate about the performance and policies of the political leaders and candidates. Political candidates running for election try to convince voters they are the best choice for their vote.

We know coaches are quick to point out the best players in team sports and also those not up to the performance level the coach wants to see. In our daily lives, there is a high level of competition and comparing of who is the greatest among people, in almost everything.

Jesus travelled with 12 disciples in his ministry as a rabbi, and there arose an argument among them about who was the greatest of them as his disciple. When Jesus asked them what they had argued about, they kept quiet about it. (Mark 9:33-34)

Jesus wanted his disciples to learn that to be greatest as his disciple involved humble, selfless service to others. He said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

When we are in a family or other various groups, we compare ourselves to others. No one wants to be picked last for a team. In pride, we say, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” The serpent’s lie deceived Eve that she would become like God if she ate of the tree in the centre of the garden. Envy may come when we compare ourselves to others, as does ambition. So quickly, our envy becomes bitter and our ambition becomes selfish, which leads to disorder, fights and quarrels.

How easily we become prideful with wrong motives. We covet, quarrel and fight for what we want for our selfish pleasures, power or prestige. We put ourselves first instead of God and others. (James 4:1-3)

Yet, God has shown us a better way in Jesus. He was willing to be a complete servant to the will of God his Father.

Jesus, being in the nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant; he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)