This verse is so incredibly powerful. It turns the world’s culture on its head and brings the philosophy of our age down into the mud in which it belongs. The attitude of Christ is in direct conflict with the world; and so should the minds of us, His disciples. The world’s idea of greatness is to rule, but Christian greatness consists in serving. The world’s ambition is to receive honor and attention, but the desire of a Christ follower should be to give rather than to receive. It should be to attend upon others rather than have others wait upon us
In short, what Jesus says here is this: The person who lays himself out most to serve his fellow men, and to be useful in his day and generation, is the greatest person in the eyes of Christ. We are so focused on self-pleasure right? We are self seeking, self-indulgent.
Ask yourselves this: Is there any service that you can perform today or tonight or tomorrow for your fellow Christian? Is there any kindness you can do to them? Is there any way to help them or promote them or to make them happier? If the answer is yes to any of this, then we should do it without delay. Yet there are so few in the church today who have this heart. The people who are willing to do good, to break down prejudices, and who shake the very foundations of the world are these people. They are the people who are willing to be last of all, servants of all.
All for the glory of Christ and not their own glory.
Let us rekindle what it really means to live in an upside down kingdom. Take our passion for money and our use of it: John Blanchard writes, “Few things test a person’s spirituality more accurately than the way he uses money.” This hurts my pride in a good way; it causes me to take stock in the fact that generally I use my money for myself only. There are hundreds of other examples.
Mark 9.36-37, “And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
I believe this section needs to be taken by faith. Jesus teaches this lesson in a very touching manner. He takes a child, after the disciples had been arguing and says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name and receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Such a profound statement!
This is foolishness to the natural person. David Garland writes, “The point of comparison is the insignificance of the child on the honor scale. The child had no power, no status, and few rights. A child was dependent, vulnerable, entirely subject to the authority of the father; yet Jesus chooses such a one to represent those who are needy and low.” If we want to be great, we must shower attention on those who are regarded as insignificant.
And Jesus follows this up with another paradox. If we want to receive Jesus, we must receive those without status. When we do this, we receive Jesus. Imagine the implications of this! It means that the greatest thing we can do is serve those who are forgotten and regarded as not important! Those who have no influence, no titles, not priority and no power, they are those who have no importance in this world except to God. This is foolishness to the world.
When you have a party, you want those who are closest to you, who have the most to give back, to come to your house. Flesh and blood can see no other way to greatness than to serve kings and queens, people of high rank or wealth, or those with high positions. JC Ryle states, “The son of God declares that the way lies in devoting ourselves to the care of the weakest and lowest of His flock.”
Those who serve like this will be honored, so Christ says. Their work may often be hard and discouraging. They may be mocked for what they do or ridiculed by the world. But let them know that the Son of Man, Jesus Christ himself, remembers all that we do and is well pleased in this area. Whatever the world may think, those who serve like this are they whom Jesus will delight to honor at the last day.
Now let me end this by saying a few things about Jesus here. He is creating a team of disciples, pouring into them intimately with no one else around. They are in the intimacy of Peter’s own home in Capernaum. Jesus here talks about the fact that he will be delivered up to authorities, that he will suffer, and that he will die; BUT that he will be raised again into life.
It is the blood of Jesus Christ that makes all of this possible; it is the gospel of Christ that must, BY FAITH permeate all that we have been talking about. You see, the temptation is to go and TRY HARDER to do these things. But that’s not the way of the cross. By faith we have to understand that Christ has already done it. His blood, by faith, has cleansed us from our power trips and desires for self.
The disciples’ idea of Jesus was wrong; he was not going to give them everything they wanted in life. He was going to give them everything they needed in DEATH. That’s what’s so upside down about all of this. It would make sense to anyone that Christ’s life would enable them the things they needed. It is not so with Christ; His death and resurrection is the only thing that would give us what we need; reconciliation to God by the forgiveness of sins. Help us Lord! Help us see the upside down Kingdom and follow hard after you because we love you!