Mark 9:33-41 NLT
33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.
Still with the child in their midst that we discussed before, Jesus has what teachers like to call "the teachable moment." He had overheard the disciples conversation on the road but since they didn't ask him about their topic he didn't impose his thoughts. Now he chose to ask them about it. The text tells us they were silent with guilt for they knew, instinctively, their conversation was inappropriate. Their aim was to determine a pecking order among them and between them and all other believers. They were following this great teacher because his greatness would eventually be associated with them in the eyes of a grateful world. Oh, how much they misunderstood about the Kingdom of God they were now engaged in!
Jesus always showed his love and appreciation of children because of their simple, uncomplicated love. They didn't have hidden agendas, just honest emotions. The Teacher starts with a premise he has taught before but had not yet penetrated their understanding. "Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else." Nice sounding words but so shocking that they bounce off of most people. We really are not usually seeking to become 'the servant of everyone else." Usually we are seeking to be served, revered, lauded, recognized, and appreciated. But Jesus wants us in His kingdom to understand this new supernatural Spiritual truth-- becoming selfless and serving others in God's name and for God's glory alone. So welcoming the child on His behalf is the same as welcoming Jesus, he taught them. What we do for the children in our church life in Jesus name is doing it for Jesus. Our church education programs. taking children to church whose families won't, uplifting and helping in times of trouble without expecting any return other than the smile of a child. These things we do for Jesus, and with children. But like Paul later says in His Epistles, not us, rather it is Christ within us who does these selfless things.
Many times we are reticent to minister to another without feeling like they are a potential candidate for our local congregation. But Jesus wants us to know that anyone who seeks Him is a member of the body of Christ, regardless of what local congregation they might attend. We should rejoice with them for their obedient service, and not seek to link them to benefit our local group. We must embrace their efforts to glorify God. If they seek to do miracles in Christ's name they are one of US. If they seek to praise God and Glorify Him by serving others, they are one of US. If they offer, even small helps to others in needs, as the Spirit of God gives them opportunity, they are one of US in the Kingdom of God. And they are to be enjoyed as a blessing to us as much as they are blessing God.
May this day be a time when you enjoy the ministry of many brothers and sisters in God's Kingdom but not necessarily of your local worship family. The Kingdom of God is large across the world and we are all ONE, in Christ.
Your servant in the Lord's Love