August 8th, 2022 – Mark 9:37

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 9:37  “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”  

As Jesus and His disciples were traveling through Galilee, Jesus was teaching them that which was coming, And He did not want them to tell anyone for what He was telling them was for their ears only at this point. “And from there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He was unwilling for anyone to know about it.” Mark 9:30. This was no doubt because Jesus did not want the Galilean multitude to cling to Him, thus hindering this important trip to Jerusalem. He needed His disciples to know and understand what essential event was close to becoming a reality. “For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” Mark 9:31-32. Jesus clearly told His disciples of this destiny back in the previous chapter. “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31. They did not understand it here either, which is shown by their rebuke of Jesus.

Now when they arrived in Capernaum and entered the house they were staying in, Jesus asked the disciples a somewhat embarrassing question. “What were you discussing on the way?” Mark 9:33b. This was no doubt embarrassing because of what we read in the next verse. “But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.” Mark 9:34. This was an embarrassed silence. It showed that they were ashamed of their obsession with greatness. It was a healthy sense of shame and proved that some of the message of Jesus was sinking into their hearts, that being the message of humility, but it obviously did not fully sink in, for it seems that this was the primary debating topic among the disciples. They all counted on Jesus to take over the world as King Messiah, and the debate was about who was most worthy to be Jesus’ chief associate.

But Jesus knew what they were discussing, so He called the disciples to Him. “And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Mark 9:35. This was important because by sitting down, Jesus showed that he was going to teach. According to Willian Barclay, “When a Rabbi was teaching as a Rabbi, as a master teaches his scholars and disciples, when he was really making a pronouncement, he sat to teach. Jesus deliberately took up the position of a Rabbi teaching his pupils before he spoke.”  The question being argued was, “Who would be the greatest.” And what Jesus said probably surprised them. He told them that if they wanted to be first, they must be a servant in love to all. This was totally opposite of how most people see greatness. He was saying, those who desire to be first, must be last and ultimately a servant of all.

And to reinforce this idea, “And taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:36-37. The idea is that he shall be the most Christian like who is the most humble, and who is willing to be esteemed least and last of all. To esteem ourselves as God esteems us is humility, and it cannot be degrading to think of ourselves as we are; but pride, or an attempt to be thought of more importance than we are, is far from wise. Matthew, in his gospel put it like this. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4.

And finally, Jesus says in the next chapter that in order to be the greatest, they must be the least. “And calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Mark 10:42-44. Leaders and others in the church are not called to lord over the people, but to serve them. We are to be like Christ who did not come to be served but to serve. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:45.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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