Scripture

Mark 9:33-37

33 They came to Capernaum. When he (Jesus) was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child 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.”

Reflection

I am often drawn to this story, where Jesus takes the time to sit down on the floor and share an important life lesson with his disciples. 

Perhaps the disciples didn’t realize Jesus overheard them arguing over who was the greatest, the most important of all the disciples. We can’t really judge them for this, because more often than not, we live with the same misdirected ambition.

Imagine yourself there that day, sitting on the floor with Jesus, as he looks into each disciple’s eyes, particularly your eyes, and says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 

To further emphasize the lesson, Jesus embraces a child and says, “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.”

In this culture, children held one of the most lowly positions. Their opinions generally went unheard. But, according to this teaching by Jesus, in the culture of God’s Kingdom, children, and those who are marginalized or oppressed, are the very first to be heard, the very first to be served. God’s ear and God’s compassion especially leans toward those who are the most overlooked. 

We are people who are highly ambitious to take care of our own needs first.

Jesus longs for us to be highly ambitious to serve others first.  

  • Think about how or where you learned “first is better than last.”  Where is this concept true? Where is it not true?
  • How does Jesus describe the blessing received by those who willingly choose last place so they can welcome and serve others first?

  • Who do you think Jesus might be longing for you to welcome and serve in his name?

Prayer

Lord, open our eyes that we may see the needs of others. Open our ears that we may hear their cries. Open our hearts that we may love all people, as you love. Let us not be afraid to defend the oppressed, the poor, and the powerless. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.