Luke 9:37-48 (ESV)
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. 46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Luke records an argument that erupted among the disciples. Jesus had just boldly told them in verse 44, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they still didn’t get it. And they broke out into an argument about which one of them was the greatest. Wow! What a contrast. Jesus told them about his coming death, and they focused on which amongst them was the best. In anticipation of what Jesus would do, they began fighting over who deserved what title and position in God’s coming Kingdom. Jesus corrected their thinking by pulling a child over. In first century Judaism, a child wasn’t taught the Scripture until age 12, and it was considered a waste of time to hang out with kids. Jesus turned that thinking upside down and used the child to show them what greatness is. Jesus said, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” In other words, if you receive even someone as “lowly” as this child, then you are actually receiving me and receiving God who sent me. Then Jesus added, “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” Greatness results from a relationship with Jesus. Even the least of those who follow Jesus is great. All people count in God’s eyes.
It can be hard for us to picture the disciples arguing with each other. Even though they had the incarnate God right there with them, they still thought about themselves and fought to get the recognition and titles they felt they deserved. But Jesus taught them that their greatness is actually a result of their relationship with him. We can feel like we aren’t so great in the eyes of the world. And sometimes the choices we make to do things God’s way lower us further in the sight of men. But if you are a follower of Jesus, God sees you as great. The disciples had a lot to learn about God and his kingdom, and we do too. No matter how others may perceive you today, know with confidence that because you are in Christ you are honored. May that truth motivate you to love and serve and honor others, even those who are considered the “lowly” in our midst.