Day 50: The Fallacy of Greatest

As a lover of Omaha restaurants, the question I most frequently hear is, “In your opinion, what’s the best restaurant in Omaha?”

This question gives me great anxiety, and my answer might change based on the day. It’s also affected by the details: Are you looking for the best fine dining establishment? (Au Courant) Best Italian? (Dante) Best sushi? (Yoshitomo) Best pizza? (Virtuoso Pizzeria)

(Trust me, I could go on and on and on…)

Truth be told, it’s really hard to nail down the definition of “best.” And honestly, I’ve found that when I tell chefs they have the best __ (halibut, NY strip, cheeseburger) in Omaha, they bashfully reply, “Well, we try. Omaha has a lot of great options.”

If only the disciples could’ve developed this nature.

In Luke’s telling of the Last Supper, just after Jesus offered the covenant of the cup, a dispute arose among those gathered: who was the greatest?

The argument is flawed on its face. What defines greatest? The greatest preacher? Jesus’ greatest follower? The greatest at obeying the 10 Commandments?

What are we even arguing about here?

The crazy thing is, during the same meal during which the Jesus’ disciples bickered about who was “the best”, Jesus (who actually was the greatest) kneeled down and washed their feet.

Hubris vs. humility. Audacity vs. sacrifice.

Now, this wasn’t an uncommon conversation amongst the disciples. They seem to love debating who was the best:

  • “At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?’” – Matthew 18:1
  • “When He was in the house, He asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet, because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” – Mark 9:33-34
  • “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” – Luke 9:46

There’s no debate to be made for the “greatest” human because we’re all tied for the worst. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

The irony is that every time the disciples argued about the greatest, the greatest was among them: Jesus. He not only put up with these childish debates, but He died for the sin of these audacious pupils.

It’s human nature to want to be the best. It’s healthy and encouraged to have lofty goals and strive for them.

But there’s no sense in debating greatness. Jesus is THE greatest, yet He made Himself the least. So give up your desire to be the best, and amp up your efforts to bring the true Greatest to the rest.