They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Summary – During their travels, Jesus teaches his disciples yet again about the nature of his earthly ministry. That he would have to die but would rise again. Somehow, even though this same point had been made in chapter 8, the disciples “did not understand” him. Upon arriving in Capernaum, Jesus questions the disciples about their trail discussion, even though he knew exactly what they were arguing about. In order to prove this point, and to set them straight with regards to their feelings of superiority, Jesus teaches them that the acceptance of children welcomes Jesus himself, which is directly connected to accepting the Father.
Insight – “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me,” Jesus said in the last chapter. Jesus was pretty clear, wasn’t he? Don’t think so much about the things of the world, think about MY mission. Even so, when Jesus told the disciples again about His need to die and rise again, Mark tells us that they didn’t understand! How could they possibly have missed Jesus’ point? It was right in front of their face! But Jesus used something else right in front of their face to drive home His point: a small child.
We really often focus on ourselves and what other people think about us don’t we? Jesus wants us to look “below” ourselves and put other people first. It’s not about us being the most important people. And just like the disciples, when we are confused about what Jesus is teaching us in our lives, it may just be because we are focusing on ourselves too much, and not looking to the good of others and the good of Christ!
Child Catechism – By welcoming a small child, who are you really welcoming? I am welcoming God himself.
Discussion – Who are some other people that by welcoming them, you are welcoming Christ? Is there anywhere in Scripture that makes this same point? (Matthew 25:35ff)
Prayer – Lord, thank you for making your teaching plain to us in your Word. Please enliven us through your Spirit to see your Son in the children, the needy, the sick. Forgive us for our self-centeredness. May we daily put ourselves last, taking our cross and becoming like you in your death, that your holy Name may be furthered. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.