True Greatness

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Mark 9:30-37

“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (v. 35)

The dunderheaded disciples just don’t seem to get it. Again and again in Mark’s gospel
they do not understand what Jesus is up to. Furthermore, they argue about who among them
is the greatest. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Mark could be describing us.

After their latest argument about who will be vice president when Jesus takes over rule
of Israel, Jesus has some direct words for his followers: “Whoever wants to be first must
be last of all and servant of all.”

To emphasize his point, he takes a small child, cradles it in his arms, and says that
whoever welcomes this child welcomes me and the God who sent me. Children had no status or
prestige in the ancient world.

Jesus’ message is clear: if you are looking for a position of power, go somewhere else.
If, on the other hand, you are willing to serve and welcome the least, come join my
kingdom. In so doing you will gain access to true royalty – even to God himself.

Jesus’ object lesson rings ever so true for us today. As we elbow our competition out
of the way, seeking our places of power and prestige, we need to see the child in the arms
of Jesus.


Triune God, humble us that we might find true greatness in welcoming the least among us.