Daily Devotion – September 27, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 9:30-37
9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;
9:31 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.”
9:32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
9:33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”
9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
9:35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
9:36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,
9:37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

This portion of Jesus’s ministry was a teaching time for him and for his disciples. Those who had followed him because of his kindness and wisdom were having to come to terms with the fact that he was predicting his death, surely a time when they would no longer have their companion. Those who had followed him because they believed he was the Messiah were having to come to terms with the fact that Jesus’s idea of Messiah-ship was very different from their own – this Messiah was not going to topple the government or kick out the Romans – this Messiah was going to love people and actually give his life for them.

And then where would they be?

When the president of a successful start-up company begins talking about retirement, everyone in the company begins asking who will lead it next. Some who wouldn’t want to lead it begin to consider which of their coworkers they’d be comfortable working for. They also consider which of their coworkers could not possibly do the job. I am wondering if this band of disciples had a similar conversation on the road that day. “If Jesus is going to die, as he has predicted, then who among us will be leader?” “I could do it.” “You? You’re kidding, right?” “Well it wouldn’t be you, would it?” Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

When Jesus has some quiet time with the disciples that night, Jesus reinforces the lesson he has taught them from the first: “Whoever wants to be first must be last; whoever wants to lead must serve.” Then he puts a child amongst them and talks about welcome. How does one welcome a little child?

Welcoming a child isn’t like welcoming prospective church members, all the while wondering who can serve on this or that committee or even who can make the best brownies for coffee hour. Welcoming a child means dropping everything and sitting of the floor and playing, feeding them what they want to eat, and even changing diapers. Being a human being who connects with other humans on their level.  Even if it means time-consuming work. Welcoming a child means simply being together.

And Jesus says welcoming a child welcomes God, the Creator of the Universe. Something to think about today as you encounter people on your day’s journey…

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for showering mercy and love upon us. Help us to welcome others the way we would welcome a child into our midst just to be together.   Amen.