Mark 9:33-37 “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. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who sent me.'”
You may know the name Robert Fulghum from his popular book Everything You Ever Needed to Know You Learned In Kindergarten. It is filled with simple yet wise instruction. Remember to say please and thank you. Pick up after yourself if you make a mess. Wait your turn in line. Take a nap when you are tired. We need the book because as adults we don’t always practice these principles every kindergartener knows.
Jesus knew children had something to teach his disciples. The men who followed him wanted to be the most powerful next to Jesus. They thought he was going to establish Israel as a powerful nation that would rule the world. If Jesus had come to be that kind of a king, each one felt, “I want in on some of the action.” They didn’t understand what he had come to earth for.
We are not so different. Christians today can lose sight of what is really important in the church. We get into arguments about official church policy or how the business part of the church should run. We become skilled at playing church politics. Egos are injured and feelings are hurt over what color paint to use or what kind of cookies to serve. We want to get our way.
The Master Teacher had a masterful way to demonstrate real greatness. He had a child stand in the middle of them. Then he invited the little one to come to him and crawl up into his lap. For the proud men standing in front of Jesus, this was impossible. But they had in front of them a tender illustration of what true greatness in the Kingdom of God is. Here was this child, bringing no achievements or merits of its own, simply nestled in the safety of its Savior’s arms. This was grace. There is nothing greater than to be the recipient of the loving gifts Jesus came to give. There is no promotion, no “up,” from forgiven, redeemed, deeply loved children of God.
Wouldn’t that be real greatness for us, too– not to have power or authority, but to have our Savior’s embrace? Don’t overvalue power. Loving and serving the little children is worth far more. Being Jesus’ children is the greatest of all.