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, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child 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.”
After Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been thrown into prison he moved from his hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum a fishing village on the shores of the Lake of Galilee.
We should read this passage in the context of the on-the-job training which Jesus continually gave his disciples. On the way from Galilee to Capernaum Jesus taught them about his coming death and resurrection [Mark 9:30-32]. When they arrived home, Jesus realised that they had been arguing about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus knew this, so he sat with them and gave what was one of his most significant teachings – about greatest. To be great, take last place and be the servant of all!
In three of the Gospels [Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:36-37; Luke 9:48] the focal point of Jesus’ teaching here is a small child. Matthew captures the essence of the teaching. “unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…. whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
I recognise that there are many leadership models promoted in the world and in the Church, but if I am to obey the teaching of Jesus there is only one effective model – that of servanthood.
Holy Spirit I ask that you keep control of my life so that I don’t divert into accepting the world’s standards.
Written by Keith Bennett