This extremely well known passage in Mark is packed with gems. The reversal values of the kingdom run directly counter to those of the world. Human nature, typified in the disciples, wants status, to be well thought of, to impress others, to be successful, and to have authority over others.
Not so in the kingdom of God. Members of the kingdom are to be servants, looking to the interests of others rather than themselves.
The child Jesus draws into his arms has no authority and autonomy, is under the control of parents, lacks adult ‘rights’, and is not ‘looked up to’ by his/her elders.
Jesus is not only turning the disciples’ ambitions upside down, he is also issuing a challenge to all who would follow him. Rather than seek the company and approval of the successful, the powerful, the rich and opinion shapers, they are to seek out and welcome the powerless and the apparently insignificant. And, against all expectations, as they do this they not only welcome Jesus, but the Father.
This is the surprising way of God in sending a humble servant-Messiah. This is to be the surprising way of his people in a world obsessed with self-advancement and ‘my rights’.
In reality Christians have all to often fallen for the tempatations of folowing the idols of greed, power and success.
How do I serve others? How does the church community I belong to serve its local community, especially the weak and the powerless? What do I need to repent of in terms of ‘selfish ambition’ and quest for success?
Who is Greatest?
33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
36He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37“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.”