How does God describe a child of His?
33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37 (English Standard Version)
When Judy and I went to the Holy Land, one of the places our tour stopped at was Capernaum. Today, the town that was in Jesus’ day is nothing but partially constructed buildings and a lot of rubble. What a difference 2000 years make. One thing I was truly impressed with, was what remained of the synagogue. In Jesus day when the rabbi would talk, he would sit down on a large stone block. I can just imagine Jesus sitting there as he spoke in the synagogue as a visiting rabbi. However, our lesson from Mark does not take place in a synagogue but rather a house.
While Jesus and his disciples were in the house, he asked them a simple question, “What were you discussing on the way?” Of course, Jesus knew what the answer was for he is God, but he had a lesson to teach them. As a teacher I have often heard kids talking about something quietly, but when you asked them what they said, all of a sudden they were quiet because they did not want to tell me. This was usually because it was something that wasn’t good, and they knew it.
This is the same way that Jesus’ disciples reacted when they were asked what they were discussing. They were talking about who was the greatest among them. Sometimes we like to show our importance in the church. After all, when someone is an elder, they are certainly more important than a congregational member, aren’t they? How about the pastor, isn’t he the most important one in the congregation? How about the ladies in the church who cook and prepare meals for different occasions, what is their importance? Maybe this message is for more than just the disciples that Jesus is teaching.
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”, Jesus told them and us today. Hey, wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense! We don’t look at a leader or someone of great importance as a servant, do we? Better yet if we think about it, this makes perfect sense, for a leader takes the best interest of those he or she leads as great importance. We as Christians therefore are made to serve in any capacity that our Lord calls us to do. Here we see the first leaders of the church, the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, as servants to the world.
Remember, when Peter would not let Jesus wash his feet in the beginning of the Passover, because that was a job for the servants. Here again, Jesus was teaching them that they are called to be servants in the world. The disciples heard this lesson over and over again, as they walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry. We too need to hear it over and over again, for we are servants of God. Again, Jesus goes back to a child to teach this important lesson.
36 And he took a child and put him, in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” We again see the Trinity and this section of God’s Word. Through Jesus’ suffering and death for our sins we are forgiven in the sight of God the father and made saints through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the suffering servant who came and died for each of us! This is the forgiveness that God gave to the world, and because of this, we have been saved by grace alone. Thank you, Jesus, for paying for my sins with your death on the cross.
Walk as a servant of the one true God.