Read Mark 9:30-37
Throughout history there seems to be a constant quest by individuals to be the greatest. Alexander III of Macedon was called Alexander the Great because of his mighty conquest of the Ancient world. But was he the greatest? Every year Time magazine publishes their person of the year – attempting to declare for that year who was the greatest. In sport, different individuals have claimed to the greatest; the famous boxer Mohammed Ali, well known for his catch cry “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” was also known for his incredibly self-confident cry of, “I am the greatest” (I just like the fact that this great hulk of a boxer described himself as a butterfly).
It seems like in almost every area, people are striving to be the greatest. Whether it be academic, sporting or music, the cry on everyone’s lips is “I want to be the greatest”. If you have ever desired to be the best, to be the greatest, then you have something in common with the disciples. One day as they are walking between towns, Jesus notices his disciples arguing along the way. When they get to Capernaum, Jesus quizzes them, “what were you talking about?”, but the disciples keep quiet. They’re ashamed, for they had been arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest.
Despite their silence Jesus knows the truth of their hearts and confronts their arrogant pride. Jesus squares them up and tells them if you want to be great, then you need to be a servant. Greatness is not bestowed upon you so that you can order people around. No, the truly great in God’s eyes are those who serve others. Jesus demonstrates greatness in himself. He who is the greatest, the creator of the universe becomes his creation. And then instead of ruling them from a mighty throne, he walks among them, he serves them and he loves them. One of Jesus’ last actions before he goes to the cross is to wash his disciples’ feet. And in the cross we see the ultimate act of servitude. The King of the world, the creator of the universe dying so that people may live. If you want to be great Jesus says, then you have to learn how to serve.
Then Jesus sees a young child and calls them over to himself. Continuing with the disciples Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37). For a second it sounds like Jesus is talking in riddles, but he could not be clearer. See, in an Ancient society children didn’t have the same value as we give them today. In today’s society, the worst act you can commit is to hurt a child. We value and care for the most helpless amongst us. However, in ancient times children were often seen without rights and without great value.
So, Jesus says – your love for one another, your willingness to be servants for one another will be demonstrated in your attitudes to children. Instead of arguing who among you is great so that you may be exalted, instead show real love to those among us who are considered without value – children.
Now days children are valued much more then back then, but I don’t think that means we should value them any less. For Jesus says when we welcome children, in fact, we are welcoming and showing love to God. May you show your love for God through your willingness to serve others.
What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- How are way that members of your family serve each other?
- Can you think of a time when someone has done something for someone else that you didn’t expect?
- How would your attitude towards others (like teachers, parents, friends etc0 change if you looked for ways to serve them?
- Who could you bless this week by living generously through your words or actions?
Pray For Each Other
If you get a chance during the week sometime read the rest of Mark 9 and up to Mark 10:16 as tomorrow we jump to Mark 10:17.