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.”
Jesus Our Greatness
Children are adorable. They can say hilarious things and have endearing antics. But often children can be seen as the least of us. On the one hand they are helpless. They rely on adults for shelter, clothing, and food but yet have little ability to help adults provide for them. On the other hand, they can be extremely self-centered.
The disciples had been quite childlike. They were helpless, failed to recognize their helplessness, and were acting quite self-centered. Jesus had shown them their helplessness when he had warned them that he was going to be killed and was going to rise from the dead. They didn’t get what he meant, so instead they found something else to talk about—their own self-centeredness—or as they saw it their own greatness. And so, the disciples argued and argued until Jesus asked them, “What are you arguing about?” And maybe quieted by embarrassment, they had nothing to say.
As much as we hate to admit it, we are childlike too. We often fail to see our own helplessness. You may think that if you do some good here and there that God will send some good things your way. Maybe you think that you have earned every single thing that you have been given without realizing you could lose it all in an instant. You may fail to see your own helplessness because you, like the disciples, try to focus on how great of a person you are.
Jesus says that true greatness is letting go of self-centeredness and pride by understanding your own helplessness. Greatness comes through Jesus’ cross. He handed himself over for you so that he would die for your self-centeredness and vanity. He is the one who conquered death and defines greatness in his life and death for you.
Doesn’t this move you to care for those who do not seem as great or deserving? If Jesus thinks you are great, then you can humble yourself without losing value. If Jesus thinks those who are least deserving are great, then you can care for those you think do not deserve it.
When children are self-centered, be patient. When children are helpless, continue to care. Encourage them and show them love. Jesus says you receive him because he cares for all those who are least deserving.
Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself for me and going to the cross to die for me. Because of your death and resurrection, you are great. Help me to understand my own need for you and empower me to serve those who are least deserving. Amen.
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