Who's the G.O.A.T.?

Encouragement for Your Heart and Mind from Pastor David Staff

Many who love sports also love to argue about sports.  ESPN’s show Get Up, hosted by Mike “Greenie” Greenberg from New York, runs for 2 hours most every weekday morning.  A full 120 minutes fueled by argument.

Greenie prompts and goads expert guests (former players or analysts) into a relentless flow of debates, using a wide assortment of comparative questions about players, coaches, teams, and owners.  Quite often, banter erupts over the G.O.A.T. – the greatest of all time – in any particular sport.
Who’s the GOAT professional basketball player?  Jordan, LeBron, Kobe? 
Who’s the GOAT professional quarterback?  Bradshaw, Rodgers, Brady?
Who’s the GOAT female in professional tennis?  Martina, Chris, Serena?
Who’s the GOAT college football university?  ‘Bama, Longhorns, Trojans, the Irish?
Who’s the GOAT professional golfer?  Hogan, Jack, Tiger?

I’ve wondered why some feel so compelled to engage in the debates.  Need there be a winner? And, who cares?  Sure, on the one hand, there is good-natured fun in marshalling the statistics in trying to “prove” your candidate.  On the other hand, depending on how stats and circumstances are assessed, there actually is no clear-cut, without-question answer to who’s the greatest...in just about anything.
It all depends on how greatness is measured, and who is doing the assessment.

G.O.A.T Debates in the Bible

Does it surprise you when I suggest that GOAT comparisons are found in the pages of Scripture?

The Holy Spirit affirms the greatest commandment in the Law (Deut. 6:1-5, cf. Mark 12:30-31).  In his day, Job was known as “the greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3).  Solomon declared that Yahweh “is greater than all (other) gods” (2 Chron. 2:5).

Jesus noted that “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).  Paul said that of faith, hope, and love--love is the greatest quality (1 Corinthians 13:13).  The letter to the Hebrew Christians identifies Jesus as greater than the angels, greater than Melchizedek, greater than Moses.

Wonderfully, John reminds God’s children that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

It seems there is nothing particularly wrong with identifying what is most important, or who may be the greatest.

The Debate Among the Disciples

There was one debate that appeared to bother the Master, Jesus of Nazareth.  A debate that happened more than once, according to Mark 8, 9, and 10.  As Jesus and his disciples made their way south from upper Galilee to Judea and Jerusalem, the men kept arguing which of them was the greatest.  Seems they were anticipating some kind of grand recognition – as Jesus’ inner band -- when they finally arrived in that important city.  Two of them even had their mother quietly lobby Jesus for guaranteed places of honor at his side.

Talk about believing “if you snooze, you lose”!   From the gospel accounts, the “who’s the greatest” argument could get quite heated.

Finally, before arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus called a huddle.  His words--which he had to repeat because it didn’t seem to be getting through—went something like this:
“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”
(Mark 10:42-44).
There is a pathway to greatness.  But it is a “greatness” as defined by the Lord. A greatness which He relentlessly modeled.

Beginning this Sunday, and through weekend gathered worship in July/August, we will be exploring through Mark’s gospel what Jesus both taught and lived about “choosing greatness by choosing to be a servant.”

Please join us this weekend (July 10) to begin exploring the greatness of our Lord and Savior, and his call to us today.
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