Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: REDUCE (11/05/15)
TITLE: Lesson in Humility
By Jennifer Woodley
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“Hey guys, have you read my latest novel, ‘Forty Days with Jesus?’ Sales are soaring and the critics are raving. Would you believe that just this morning I received an email to say my book is on the Jerusalem Journal Top Ten Best Sellers!”
Bartholomew settled back comfortably into the lounge, beaming proudly at the others.
James scoffed at his friend’s remarks. Surely his own impressive social connections outweighed Bartholomew’s literary accomplishments.
“Ha!” he smiled victoriously, spilling the coffee mug on the table beside him. “But remember, unlike the rest of you, I have been schooled by the best Rabbis in Jerusalem. Since childhood my parents have ensured I be introduced to and mix with, the most influential men of society; my connections to the upper class far outshine your novel Bartholomew.”
Bartholomew frowned. James had one up on him there.
But Simon Peter and his brother Andrew interjected. There was no doubt that their reputation as famous fisherman gave them the greatest ranking.
“Why,” Simon Peter shouted enthusiastically, causing all the men to spill their coffee mugs, “this season Andrew and I won a trophy each for the biggest bass ever caught on record at the Sea of Galilee Fishing Tournament!”
Peter extended his hands indicating the size of his grand catch. The others looked doubtfully at his estimation, but nonetheless were suitably impressed. Taking home the trophy for this prestigious annual tournament was certainly an admirable achievement. The brothers smiled self-assuredly knowing that they were the envy of every fisherman throughout the region.
However, brothers, James and John, not to be outdone, spoke up. Their successful retail business, ‘Thunder’s Mediterranean Motorboats', had grown from strength to strength. It was now the biggest supplier of powerboats along the Mediterranean coast from Judea in the south to Cilicia in the north. John excitedly jumped to his feet, “Orders are now coming from as far away as Italy, he beamed, “and just this week Caesar himself has ordered three new red boats for the upcoming speedboat races on the Jordan River.” The others nodded, yes, this indeed was worthy of greatness. Perhaps these two enterprising young brothers were the greatest after all.
But then Matthew, former tax collector, stood up; his chest puffed out like a peacock. The disciples knew him to be one of the wealthiest men in Judea.
“If money makes us the greatest in the Heavenly Kingdom,” he said eloquently, “then it is of little doubt that I will be the greatest amongst us all.” Matthew sat down with a pretentious air. All eyes remained fixed on him. Without saying a word, the decision seemed to be unanimous. The wealthiest would be judged the greatest. Their grandiose could not compete against Matthew.
Just then Jesus stepped amongst them, disrupting their thoughts. He held a small smiling boy in his arms. Squatting down, Jesus spoke gently, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)NIV
A great hush filled the room as all eyes were transfixed on the Teacher. Jesus’ words resonated in their ears, resounded in their hearts. The men were bewildered. Had their arguing this past hour to establish a pecking order of importance been in vain? Surely not! Yet a few sobering words from the Teacher and their discussion seemed petty and meaningless. Egos had been deflated. Proud, pompous attitudes sucked away like air rapidly released from inflated balloons.
“Master,” said John, “do you mean that our care for another, even one as little and helpless as this child, is what makes us great in God’s eyes?”
Jesus held their gaze and loved them. “Yes,” he replied, “the one who welcomes another in humble service, expecting nothing in return, he alone has the true qualities that make for greatness.”
Forgetting themselves, they worshiped God.
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