Luke 9:46-48

The disciples are arguing over which one of them is the greatest. The Message translates this term in verse 46 as “the most famous.” Our culture idolizes fame. As a child I imagined being the greatest author or actress and being interviewed by Johnny Carson. Now we have people who are “famous for being famous.” You don’t even have to achieve anything!

Jesus is having none of it. He invites a child into their circle and says that anyone who welcomes children as if they were Jesus is welcoming Jesus, therefore welcoming God. Who in our world welcomes children this way? Daycare workers? Teachers? Those who protect children at the border? Jesus declares these the greatest, yet many of them are barely paid enough to pay their bills.

Let’s not forget that welcoming children takes a lot of work, something else that our culture tries to romanticize. We like to picture children who look at us adoringly and do everything we say, but what of the “wild child” who gets loose to run around the sanctuary a few times before it’s time to go back for children’s church? What about children who make messes? They all do, of course, and need us for a thousand things—to clean up those messes, to provide food and cook meals, to buy and wash clothes, to clean, to read books, to love and nurture and guide, and to do all those things ad infinitum.

Does this mean that welcoming Jesus is a lot of work? Sounds like it. But as we come to understand the paradox of the greatest being the least, we can experience this work, in the words of the old Peace Corps slogan, as “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”


How have you welcomed Jesus by welcoming the least of these?


God, forgive us when we become obsessed with being “the greatest.” Free us to take on the toughest jobs we’ll love by welcoming Jesus through welcoming others. Amen.

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