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June 20, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.’”—Mark 9:36–37 (NLT)
Jesus is a teacher—probably the greatest teacher who ever existed. In today’s Scripture, we see a simple but powerful lesson that Jesus teaches His disciples.
In previous verses, the disciples argue about who will be the greatest. You might expect that Jesus would quell their argument but proclaiming His deity as the Son of God. You could anticipate Jesus summoning an army of angels to prove the point that He is the greatest. But He didn’t. Instead, He brings a little child into the conversation.
He takes the child in his arms. It makes me wonder. What was it like to be in Jesus’ arms? What was it like to be embraced by God Himself. There are certain people you hug, and it brings about this sense of deep comfort and peace, this sense of belonging and security. I imagine that feeling was infinitely magnified in the embrace of Jesus, who was fully man and fully God!
By bringing a child into the conversation with these Jewish men, Jesus places value on young life. You see, children weren’t welcomed into circles where adults were. They were shooed away. In fact, they weren’t even regarded as family, but more like property. Instead of following the typical customs of the day, Jesus does the opposite and welcomes the children. And in doing so, He sets the standard for how others should show hospitality.
I love how Jesus intentionally displays how He values every human life. We’ve seen Him care for the ones who have been sick, the women who were considered less than, the outcasts who lived along the edges of society, and the ones that are young.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). This reminds us that Jesus values the ones that society and culture deem worthless, and we should, too. Remember, Jesus came not to be served, but to be the servant of all. He made Himself low and He took on flesh to bear our sin and shame, making a way for us to be reunited with the Father. Everyone deserves the free gift of salvation!
Whoever welcomes the servant welcomes Jesus and, even more powerfully, welcomes the Father. This is what God is like. He is a father who cares for children, for the outcasts, for the sick, the widows, the orphans, and the lonely. As a child of God, I want to be just like my Father!
Pause: What is your reaction to welcoming someone who typically doesn’t fit into your circle of friends? Do you welcome them like you would Jesus?
Practice: Today, show hospitality to someone you normally would not! Reach out to a neighbor. Send a text to an estranged friend. Make eye contact and smile at your cashier.
Pray: Heavenly Father, I thank You for the free gift of salvation. Thank You for showing me what You are like through Your word. You care for every human being. Help me to extend the same gift of hospitality and humility to those around me, just like You did, Jesus. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.