46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 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 it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
The worst lesson to take from this: If we want to be great we have to be the least. It is not a lesson on trying to get greatness by an alternative means. Jesus is telling us that the whole idea of being the greatest is the wrong goal. It is not about our status. It is about how we see ourselves and others. Not thinking of ourselves as the greatest or most important. Telling us to stop thinking that all these things revolve around us. It is about welcoming.
Here Jesus uses the child to show welcoming. Children who were supposed to be there, but not noticed. Children who had no real status. But we can see so many more in that same place. Those who don’t seem to belong. The ones who don’t look like us. The ones who cannot contribute, at least in our understandings of wealth, power, skills, etc. The ones who seem weak, poor, or add any other reason we have kept people on the outside looking in.
Following Jesus is not about what we get; seeing our benefits. Following Jesus is about the others who also need to see Jesus and need to receive grace. Following Jesus is about including others in our lives of faith. As several authors have pointed out in various books over the past years: It’s Not About Me. It is about welcoming others in need, and in doing so, it is about welcoming Jesus into our midst. And if we need a deeper reminder of it we go again to Matthew 25.31-46 – The Sheep and the Goats.
We won’t have to make big efforts to find those who have need of Jesus. Just open our eyes and see them always before us. We nurture our faith as we see others in need of grace and work with them so they can receive grace. We nurture faith for those already with us as they see that action of caring modeled. We nurture faith in the larger community as we live out our faith in their presence.
Song – Sheep and Goats
Loving God, we have heard your call to live as one body. We thank you for your Son, the head of the body. We praise you for your Spirit, who works to make us one. Now as we leave to worship you in our work, fellowship, and leisure, we pray for the grace to live together in harmony. We pray for imagination to find ways to strengthen our unity in Christ. We also pray for courage to carry out these commitments in a spirit of joy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.