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?


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  1. This. Yes, this. I want those eyes, too.

  2. Thanks, Diana. I really needed to read this on a Monday morning, and He knew. {We miss you}

  3. Yes, Sandy. I want those eyes that see Jesus in the eyes of the littlest and the last. We work so hard to ‘be big’ and to value all the stuff of maturity. And those are good and right things to work toward. But we can sometimes really lose touch with this central truth – never lose touch with children, beginning with the small you that still lives in there somewhere and extending to children everywhere – those close and those far away. This is the thinking that is behind your beautiful post about Compassion a few weeks ago – this is the thinking we all need to live inside, every single day.

  4. Oh, Holly – so glad this met you on the road today. I miss you all, too. Last Tuesday, I was sitting in the oral surgeons chair and have the humungous bruise to prove it. So I’m laying low these days. REALLY low. Gah. Greet everyone for me – I’ll try to get there at least once before this round is over!

  5. Two children climbed over my feet yesterday in the pew and sat next to me, spilling things and drawing on the offertory envelopes and asking me questions in the middle of the prayer. I can’t say I welcomed them…

  6. Yeah – I SO get that. But if someone doesn’t welcome those two sometime, somewhere – I wonder, what good thing will be missed? And then there’s this truth, too….sometimes welcoming includes gentle correction and guidance. :>)

  7. Right. And…right. Honestly, by the time the whole thing was over, they’d found their way into my heart and I even thanked one of them for choosing to sit with me that day. But my initial reaction could have been better.  Work in progress – that’s me!

  8. *sigh* Thank you.

    This is lovely, and not just because sometimes it feels like all I do is receive children, either :). Thinking about being that child lately. So liberating.

    I’m playing catch up. I saw your generous invitation on Facebook and so LONG to take you up on it. I saw Donald MIller in Cincinnati a couple years ago and he was fabulous. Love his books. I hope the offer to fly out to see you comes again because it is just too impractical for me right now. But just thinking about the possibility made me happy. I hope Sheila is able to. And some others.

    Happy Day 30, Diana.

  9. Ain’t it the truth? I look back on my reactions to my own children sometimes and positively shudder. I’ve still got such a long ways to go in terms of patience, acceptance, realistic expectations in line with developmental ability, etc., etc.  As always, this stuff that comes when I read scripture is always, ALWAYS directed to me first. I think every sermon I’ve ever preached as been to me first – and most – of all. 

  10. I can imagine that your line of work involves receiving the child in everyone you meet! Often true for me, too. But we gotta start with paying attention to that child inside – somehow that does free us up to be more receptive to others. The invite holds, honey – any time you feel a need for CA visit, let me know.

  11. This thought about not losing touch with the child in me–this really has me thinking. 

  12. Hey, that’s what I deal with a whole lot in the work I do – both my own inner work and my work with others. And now at one chapter + a little into “The Heart Aroused,” I’m sensing a big time theme.

  13. What I love about little children is their matter-of-factness. They don’t need to fully comprehend, argue, debate or dissect something. When Jesus says, “Come,” they do. Simple as that.

  14. Except for when they don’t. :>) And I know what you mean – but in my (limited) experience, they do begin to try and figure things out awfully early these days. And debating? My 2 year old shows remarkable skill in that area.

  15. Thank you! That was fantastic. 🙂

  16. Thank you for stopping by and saying so, Ramona!