46An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. 47But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, 48and said to them, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest."
Jesus' disciples were getting it all wrong from the very beginning. In Jesus' own hearing, his disciples get into an argument over which one of them was the greatest. It seems ridiculous and, yet, all too often we, Jesus' disciples today, do a similar thing. Which of us is the greatest? Which of us gives the most? Which of us has the most power or the most clout or the most control? We constantly judge others as being less worthy of being part of the church than ourselves. We, like those first disciples, get it wrong all the time.
Aware of their inner thoughts, Jesus takes a little child and places the child among his disciples, saying to them, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest" (9:48). Jesus' point is clear. Those who we judge to be the least worthy are, in God's kingdom, the most worthy. Those who we judge to be the most worthy are, in God's kingdom, oftentimes the least worthy. Jesus turns our human expectations completely upside-down.
Who are the little ones in our congregation, in our neighborhood, in our community who Jesus is calling us to welcome? Most likely, they are the ones who don't look like us, who don't act like us, who don't belong to the same social circles as us. Most likely, they are the ones who are often times overlooked and forgotten by others. Most likely, they are the ones we may not even necessarily want to be part of our congregations. Who are the greatest among us? Jesus' answer is crystal clear. Will we welcome them or do everything in our power to keep them away?
Lord Jesus, teach me to open up my heart to welcome those who are different than me. Amen.
Pastor Greg Busboom-Lead Pastor