The gospel lesson we would like to share with you today is Mark 9:33-37—in Capernaum, Jesus heard the disciples were arguing with each other. He then asked them what they were arguing about yet nobody dared to say a word, because they were not arguing about faith, but rather who should be the greatest. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew what each of them was thinking about—he sat down, called them over, and told them that whoever wanted to be the greatest would be the servant of all. Jesus then called a child to him, placed him among them, and subsequently picked him up. According to the Gospel of Matthew—Jesus even said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)
Every disciple needs God like a child needs his/her parents—they must remain in the Lord, and live by his Word.
Why did Jesus want to turn his disciples into children? First of all, children are innocent in their hearts, simple and direct in their thoughts—unlike adults who are calculating and full of hidden agendas. Secondly, children usually have no possessions and have not developed any abilities and talents, so there is nothing to be proud of or boast about. Moreover, because children are weak and small; they cannot fully support themselves, therefore they are dependent on their parents to meet their basic needs, and would require teaching from their parents and teachers. When Jesus understood that the disciples still cared about power and ranking—he wanted them to be like children, remaining purity of mind. He also wanted them to understand that they are children to the Lord, there is nothing to boast about. One should be humble and not be arrogant. More importantly, every disciple needs God like a child needs his/her parents—they must remain in the Lord, and live by his Word.
Jesus emphasized that accepting these young and weak believers in the Lord’s glorious name is equivalent to accepting Jesus Christ.
“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,” (Mark 9:37) Jesus said to them at last. Jesus did not only want his disciples to be like a child, but he also hoped that they would accept and care for the other believers who are spiritually and religiously young and weak. Therefore, Jesus emphasized that accepting these young and weak believers in the Lord’s glorious name is equivalent to accepting Jesus Christ, which is equivalent to accepting God. When the disciples follow his Word, they would certainly receive the best from God, yet we ought to remind ourselves that we must work at it with all our heart, as working for the Lord, to help earnestly and receive these “children” of the Lord.
May we rely on the Savior Jesus Christ in our lives and maintain the innocent heart that God has given us. Amen.