3 October 2007

Luke 9:43b-48

"But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, 'Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest'". (v.47-48)


Earlier, in Luke 9, Jesus has asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God". Immediately Jesus warns that he will be rejected and killed and that those who wish to follow him will need to tread a similarly costly path. 

We then have the story of Jesus appearing on the mountain top, with his face changed and his clothes dazzling white. He is seen speaking with Moses and Elijah and a voice is heard from the cloud saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 

On coming down from the mountain, Jesus heals a boy thought to be possessed by an 'unclean spirit'. And, we are told, "all were astounded at the greatness of God". But in the midst of all this amazement and glory Jesus again warns that he is to be betrayed into human hands. But even his disciples did not or could not understand what he was saying. 

Jesus is turning upside down people's understanding of greatness and they find it hard to accept. So he illustrates it by placing a child in their midst - who at the time would have been thought to have little status and few rights. "The least among all of you is the greatest" - and "the greatest" will be rejected, betrayed and killed.

To Ponder

How would you define greatness? Who would you describe as great and why?

The disciples struggled to come to terms with Jesus' redefining of greatness. Why was that - and in what ways do present day followers of Christ continue to struggle with it?

Jesus said, "The son of Man came not to be served but to serve". What opportunities do you take to serve 'the least' in your midst?

Bible notes author

The Revd Graham Jones

Graham Jones is a Methodist presbyter serving as a member of the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network in the Yorkshire Plus region of the Methodist Church, with particular responsibility for ministry development. Graham is committed to developing ministry in its broadest sense, enabling both lay and ordained to live out their vocations, and to share in God's mission in the most fulfilling and effective ways.