Only the greatest get to sit next to Jesus in heaven, but to be greatest in heaven, we must make ourselves least on earth. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Isaiah stood in the Lord’s throne room and was moved to the point of blind passion. He jumped at the opportunity to serve God. Isaiah’s service to God meant that he needed to tell Judah that they were going to be destroyed because they had been breaking God’s law for far too long. That’s not an easy thing to tell a nation. It’s assumed that Isaiah was sawed to death at the hands of a king who sacrificed innocent children to the idol Moloch. Will Isaiah sit next to Jesus in heaven? Is he number one? Maybe. Paul was stoned, beaten, and thrown into a Roman prison. John the Baptist was beheaded at the request of a princess. Maybe he’s number one?
People today are being killed because they won’t deny Jesus Christ as God, because they know who God is and would rather be hurt on this earth than leave him in heaven. Any amount of punishment dished out by the hands of ruthless men and women doesn’t compare to the goodness of Jesus Christ. Jesus was mutilated until people could no longer recognize him as being human.
Many Christians won’t ever be forced to choose between death or denial for their faith, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t choose death. That doesn’t mean that they are doing less of God’s will. Maybe the person to sit next to Jesus in heaven hasn’t even been born yet. Or maybe not just one gets to sit there, but all who follow the Lord have the honor to sit next to Jesus in heaven. “Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father’” (Matthew 20:23).
Either way, whether we might be number one or number one-million, let’s keep doing our part. The measure of faith isn’t pain, it’s choice. Let’s be the best at making ourselves least. “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).