An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 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 9:46-48
Humility doesn’t come naturally for us.
In fact as it seems, it doesn’t even matter how closely one walks with Jesus, pride is rooted so deeply in the depraved heart of man…it is bound to erupt eventually.
And in the scripture above we see the ugliest kind of pride arise in the midst of the ones Jesus chose to live and act and die and rise along side. Can you imagine how angry this would have made Jesus when he heard his disciples bickering over who would be greatest just minutes after He told them of His own impending death.
They had just watched Jesus heal a demon-possessed boy, and stretch five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. But most notably, moments before this immature argument arose, after Jesus warned them of His death – four of them witnessed His transfiguration!
But pride is indifferent to any of these things. All pride worries about is pecking order and personal glory. And here we see this happening with Jesus’ chosen disciples.
“They didn’t look at the cross, they just looked at the crown.” ~ John MacArthur
And then Jesus see’s a child; A perfect opportunity for a needed lesson.
Children contributed nothing in the ancient world and were often ignored by the Rabbi’s of the time. And this child would have been old enough to stand but small enough to hold. So he was little. And Jesus took him in His hands and then put the child beside Him and then essentially said, you receive him – you receive me.
But why is this an important lesson?
Well like most other things Jesus did, this would have been another shock for His followers. What could possibly make a child so special as to cause Jesus to take special interest in him?
This text is all about pride. Children represented the least of these, and those men wanted to be greatest. So Jesus shut down their selfish fighting by calling them to care about others more than themselves. But not just any other; indeed the least self-gratifying kind of other. There would be no earthly greatness in receiving a child. And that was the point.
Jesus knew the reasoning of their hearts. Which makes the lesson so rich. They saw themselves as high and mighty and wanted to be even greater. And for that reason rank became all too important.
But Jesus knows that pride is a heart and ministry killer. In the church today we see it all the time. The one thing that can take down some of the most renowned ministries is the pride of a man’s heart.
We live in a time of church history where joyfully there seems to be a renewed conviction to teach and preach God’s Word faithfully. With the advent of the internet and video, ministries all over the world have become easy access to encourage and convict men around the globe to become faithful preachers of the gospel. And for this reason we see more men aspiring to herald the good news with bible in hand.
A fresh crop are excited and driven to preach…
…except none of them want to preach to children.
Of course not all of them are meant to, but there is a woeful lack of men entering children’s ministry. And my guess is the reason has a lot to do with pride. The same pride that infected the disciples. There just isn’t much glory in the upstairs classes at church, is there? The recognition becomes isolated to mainly parents, and most of children’s ministry is just babysitting, right?
What children’s ministry needs now more than ever, are educated, theologically minded, spirit-filled men to come and love and train and encourage young boys and girls in the faith. This is not just women’s work. Children need to see Godly women AND men teaching faithfully the truths of God.
But the reason we need to do it is because Jesus told us to!
Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. ~ Mark 10:14-15
The disciples had a habit of de-valuing children. And I think we have the same problem. But Jesus made it extremely clear twice just how important the little ones were to Him. Even becoming indignant at the disciples for keeping the children from Him. This event in the Scripture above was another act of pride! The disciples believed that what they were doing was only worthy of adult ears and minds.
But isn’t this a chide for us all?
Because how many of us glory in the thought of having our children sit with us in church so they can witness God’s people worship? Or are they just a nuisance? Or how many of us jump when the need to serve in children’s ministry arises? Or are we all just too above that kind of work?
And how many bible-loving men experience the call to join pastoral ministry and then decide to do it for God’s glory in the kids wing at church?
Let me tell you, the fields of harvest are aplenty…but the workers are very very few. And there is no greater time to tell people about the beauty of the gospel then when they are young. When hard-heartedness, cynicism and lies about self-sufficiency hasn’t taken root. There is a huge need in the church for strong children’s pastor’s and dedicated workers.
A HUGE need!
And I fear this drought is very present due to the strength of prides grip. And so we must ask ourselves, are we just like the disciples? Are we after our own glory?
Or are we willing to receive a child – and in turn – receive Christ?