Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed 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.”
This is a challenging passage. It says we must be last. It’s like going to the VERY end of the line, EVERY TIME. And it’s especially challenging because it uses the word pantos — ALL — twice. We are to be the last of ALL, putting ourselves after every being on this planet. We are to be the servant of ALL, of everyone who exists.
And to help us understand this, Jesus gets a little child. Now we know that children are special. But the kids haven’t earned their place yet. They aren’t wise yet. They don’t have the rights of an adult.
And yet Jesus gives them preference. He says we should readily welcome them with warmth and eagerness. The Greek voice used here stresses a high level of self-involvement. It’s like greeting someone with open arms, hugging them, and immersing ourselves in their cares and concerns.
I love what one commentary said about this passage. It said that Jesus was lifting up “whoever shows respect, and performs the least office of love and kindness to the meanest believer, comparable to a little child.” (Gill) Because the wording of the verse is actually, “Whoever welcomes a little child such as this.”.
Ah. Here’s the heart of the passage. It’s not about being nice to children, it’s about giving to the least, the lowest of the low. It’s about serving the person you think is beneath you, the one don’t like, the one who gets on your nerves, the one you think doesn’t deserve it.
And that is challenging to me, because there is a person in my life right now who is hard to be involved with. And I need to dive into their life and sincerely support them.
I need to be a dust kicker to the undeserving. And of course, we are all undeserving. That’s why we do it, because Jesus cared about the least of these — ME!
Being the last means dying to self. I have been working on this since I wrote the blog about dying more to produce more. I am practicing dying more. But I’m not doing it out of insecure compulsion. I’m practicing giving cheerfully to others late at night., making that phone call instead of putting it off, responding to the frustrating message with love.
I am just trying, just approaching living out the verse, “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” Phil 3:10
It says earlier in Philippians that Christ made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. Christ was a dust kicker to the undeserving.
Let’s follow Him!