“An argument arose among them [Jesus’ disciples] 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.'”(Luke 9:46-48 ESV)
This devotion pairs with this weekend’s Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Recently, I read a biography of a great person. I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself getting lost in his life story. A well-written biography of a great person is different than an encyclopedia article. A biography doesn’t just tell you about that person in a short summary. It shows you. It offers you a life you can get lost in, even if only for a little while.
The first followers of Jesus were quick to record Jesus’ biography—four of them, actually: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These inspired biographies don’t just tell of Jesus, they show. They continue to put before every reader and hearer the unique greatness of Jesus Christ. They summon us to lose ourselves in Jesus’ life for good.
Today’s text is a tiny excerpt of Luke’s biography of Jesus. In chapter 9, Luke takes us on a whirlwind tour, walking with Jesus. He’s showing us what truly counts as a great life. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus gives His disciples power to heal people in greater ways. The scene switches, and Jesus lets His disciples further participate in His greatness: the little they have to contribute plus His power feeds a stadium-sized crowd. Now they’re sure they’re in the presence of the greatest life ever lived! But Jesus says His life will meet a tragic (albeit temporary) ending. And they don’t understand how this fits in with His greatness. Luke switches scenes again, and we’re up on top of a mountain, and Jesus is shining like a bolt of lightning. It couldn’t be any clearer that He is God’s Chosen One. Moses and Elijah even show up to be His witnesses. We hear something about a departure—a new exodus out of slavery Jesus will accomplish. But before we know it, we’re back down the mountain in the valley, where His disciples are powerless against the devil. And then they start arguing about which one of them is the greatest.
There’s something about reading a biography that compels you to think of your own unfinished story.
When we lose ourselves in Jesus’ biography, we start to see our situation more clearly. Like Jesus’ first followers, we find ourselves craving greatness on our own terms. We’ve enslaved in our own insecure life stories. But Jesus’ biography offers an exodus—a way out of self-centered smallness toward greatness on God’s terms. Here’s what it means to be great: it’s losing yourself in Jesus, and finding yourself, welcomed at His side like that child He mentioned. And in His Name, welcoming other little ones there as well.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have offered me Your life. I want to lose myself in Your story. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 25, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Have you read a great biography lately? If not, whom would you like to read about?
2. In Luke 9:48, Jesus says to regard the smallest, weakest, most insignificant as the greatest. How does that attitude reflect the focus of his mission?
3. Think of the small, weak, and insignificant persons you know. What would it mean for you to treat them as the most important?