The question the disciples argued about – ‘who is the greatest’- echoes in our world.
“Who is the greatest” echoes in the chambers of the European Union and the United Nations, but also in the boardrooms of mining houses and corporations and maybe also in the project discussions of not-for-profit organisations.
“Who is the greatest” shows in who get the most attention when donors visit a project.
“Who is the greatest” is reflected in our focus of time, of energy, of resources.
“Who is the greatest” determines who has a seat at the table when important discussions are held and decisions are made.
“Who is the greatest” drives the inflated salaries of business moguls, politicians and even some NGO leaders.
We tend to react like the disciples when we think about “who is the greatest”.
Jesus turned “who is the greatest” upside down. In responding to the disciple’s argument, He gave a totally illogical response. He spoke about being the very least, and the servant of all. He went even further and spoke about a child.
In verse 37 we read: “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.” (NIV)
In the time of Jesus, young children were not seen as precious and pampered as we often see today. In fact, children were viewed as the least valuable member of society. Yet, Jesus equated welcoming these little ones with welcoming Him and even welcoming God, the One who sent Him.
If I look at the images on my TV screen I want to weep.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about the unceasing line of refugee children that walk and are carried across my TV screen.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about the body of a child lying on a Turkish beach, and the arguments and controversy after his photo was published world-wide.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about millions of children in the camps in Lebanon and Jordan.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about the malnourished children in Somalia, on the tea plantations in India, and in our own country.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about the village council in India that ordered that two sisters should be gang-raped as punishment after their brother eloped with a married woman.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about the 15 million girls younger than 18 who are married in a year.
I wonder what Jesus would have said about how we welcome these children, and through them, how we welcome Him, and the One Who sent Him?
To think about: What would the world look like if we took Jesus’ words seriously?