Monday, March 26, 2012

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary - Day TWENTY-NINE

Mark 9:30-37, New Living Translation

Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead. They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” 


They are NOT getting it...

...these disciples, these friends of Jesus, the ones who've left home and livelihood to join him on the road.  

They're moving ever closer to Jerusalem and Jesus is intent on teaching them the true meaning of the Kingdom of God. 

But...they're clueless.

For example: when they're out there on the road walking and talking and missing the point... 

...they seem to be spending the bulk of their time pushing and shoving and jostling, getting themselves into a heated discussion about who among them will be 'the greatest.'

Ahem. NOTHING whatever to do with the message that Jesus is preaching here. Nothing.

Which is precisely when Jesus pulls a small child into the circle - into his arms, to be exact - and says, "THIS is what you're supposed to look like, friends. This is whom you are to welcome as if you are welcoming me." 

It seems you don't get to be the greatest by pushing your way there. 

                  You get to be first by...being last. 

And in that time and place, there was no one more 'last' than
...a child. 

Bottom of the heap, 
     no legal standing, 
          no status, 
               no authority, 
                    no 'leadership skills,' 
               no priority seating, 
          no head-of-the-line,
     no pick-of-the-litter,
no nothin'. 
there is this - 
     a small child who is welcomed, 
          received with love, 
               hosted graciously, 
                    cared for, fed and sheltered - 
     such a one is exactly where Jesus can be found.

Not just 'angels unaware,' 
     but Jesus himself  
just might show up on our doorstep,  
     grimy and mischievous, 
     laughing or sobbing, 
     looking up at us with those eyes. 
Oh, those eyes. 

So, my friends, here is the big, BIG takeaway for today:

Any investment we make into the lives of small children is the single most important work we can do on this planet. 

So all you parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers - oh, please - welcome the child.  

Welcome the child. 

For this is the work of the kingdom - to see Jesus in the least of these. 


Give us eyes to see you, Gentle Shepherd. To see you in the little ones we meet, the little ones we read about, the little ones we worry about, the little ones who still live and breathe inside of us, the little ones everywhere. For to such belong the kingdom of God. Oh, my.

Linking up with Michelle and Jen for this one - I think this is the first time I've linked up one of these daily posts - not sure why. But hey, there's always a first time, right?