Luke 9:46-48 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and made him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.
Genesis 1 makes it clear that the identifying characteristic of the human race, to mark us off from every other part of what God created, is that we were made in the ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ of God himself (Genesis 1:26). The temptation with which the Serpent in the Garden so successfully tempted our first parents had the aim of getting us to think that we ARE God, and not just bearers of his image. He did this by convincing us to make our own decisions about what is right and wrong rather than just obeying God’s word.
One of the ways this inherited ‘fault’ in our make-up presents itself is that we want to be ‘greatest’. This is why Jesus’ disciples were arguing with each other about ‘which of them would be the greatest’ – and this in spite of the perfect example they had of true humility in their Master teacher, Jesus, the promised powerful ‘Son of Man’ figure (Daniel 7:13-14) who had come ‘not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45). It is especially significant that their arguing occurred soon after Jesus had told them that he was heading for Jerusalem to die (43-44).
We don’t always realise what a great privilege it is when God calls us to exercise an influential ministry to children, whether it be as a parent, a professional teacher, a medical practitioner, a volunteer Sunday School teacher, youth worker, sporting coach, etc. We are being called on to ‘welcome’ or ‘receive’ little children in Jesus’ name, and by so doing we are welcoming/receiving God, both the Son and the Father. We are participating with God in a work that is close to his heart. But with every privilege comes responsibility. Just as Jesus was looking to little children as an example of simple, trusting faith, uncomplicated by the guile of the world, so we are to set before them a model of a humble, ‘servant’ heart that seeks ‘greatness’ in the lowly, unheralded service of others.
– Bruce Christian