Text: Luke 9:37-56 | Listen to Message
The Remedy For Pride
Jesus’ disciples are stumbling and bumbling their way through this section of Luke’s Gospel, displaying a remarkable lack of self-awareness:
First, they can’t cast out a demon that Jesus gave them power over (Luke 9:1), apparently because they’re relying on their own technique and experience rather than trusting God for a fresh work of grace.
Second, they can’t grasp what Jesus means about suffering and dying because they’ve already decided that this is not how the story – his or theirs – is supposed to go.
Third, they’re arguing about which of them is the greatest – proving they’re enamored with conventional notions of power and influence and importance.
Fourth, they attack the work of a fellow believer and tell him to shut it down because, while recognizing his orthodoxy, they don’t like his associations.
Finally, they want to do Jesus a favor by calling down fire from heaven and incinerating a group of people who don’t roll out the red carpet for him.
All five of these mistakes are rooted in pride. The disciples, at this point in their lives, barely resemble the Christian leaders who will later pen letters filled with meekness, patience, and grace. They needed to learn humility without being humiliated; they needed the smoldering wick of their faith to be stoked without being extinguished. In short, they needed more exposure to the majesty and humility of Jesus.
Consider a brief illustration. Pretend you think you’re a phenomenal basketball player, and it’s gone to your head. You think you’ve got game because you can dominate your small circle of friends in the pick-up league at the rec center.
But one day a rising NBA star drops by the gym. His athleticism is ridiculous. His jab step, pump fake, and jump shot are so quick, no one can stop him. He’s grabbing every rebound. He’s running the floor like a gazelle. He’s dunking on everyone. Suddenly you realize your game isn’t all that. Being in the presence of majesty has brought you a little perspective you didn’t have before.
Later that day, you realize why the NBA athlete is at the gym: he’s hosting a free basketball clinic that night for handicapped children. You’re stunned to see his genuine enthusiasm interacting with these kids, teaching them drills, and then playing a game that barely resembles basketball. But everyone is having so much fun – and feeling so loved and accepted – it hardly matters. You begin to feel a little ashamed of yourself and your stinking pride. It had never occurred to you to use your mediocre talents to serve others. But this professional player is thrilled to be spending his night with these kids.
This – this combination of majesty and humility – is what the disciples needed to see in Jesus. So that’s what Jesus patiently continued to show them – using his incomparable power and authority to serve the broken, to welcome the nobodies, to extend patience and mercy to his enemies. Ultimately, Jesus would take his majesty to a Cross where he would humbly lay down his life to save us from all our pride.
If you recognize in yourself some of the proud self-interest and self-importance of the disciples, look to Jesus! Notice his majesty and his humility. Let him melt your heart with the paradox time and time again. And when you see it, journey forward in repentance and faith!