During his ministry on earth, Jesus often spoke directly to those with him with words of instruction intended specifically for those individuals. Less frequently he spoke to all who would listen to him, using words of universal importance. Over these few weeks we reflect on some of the instructions from the Gospel of Mark that Jesus intended we, and all who follow him, should receive and obey.
Gospel of Mark 9: 33-37 (NIV)
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “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.”
There are related statements with universal application here. One (verse 35) refers to “anyone”, the other (verse 37) to “whoever”.
“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Jesus demonstrated this servant attitude throughout the time he spent teaching his disciples. He delivered an acted parable to them on the night he was to be betrayed when he took the towel and washed his disciples’ feet (John 13).
Jesus did not pander to those in society who held social status. His servant attitude extended to his regard for all. Women and children, tax collectors and prostitutes all warranted his attention. Hence, when he took the little child in his arms to teach his disciples with the words, “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,” he was showing that nobody is beneath the attention of God.
This should be the attitude we carry as his ambassadors, the attitude of a servant. This includes putting ourselves last for, unless we do, his will cannot be performed through us.