They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
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, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:33-36 (NIV)
So, I can just imagine the conversation among the twelve disciples before Jesus confronted them about their bickering. They were ashamed because they were trying to decide among themselves who was the greatest. Maybe, most likely, they argued about who was the favorite of Jesus. These are grown men mind you, and they had been around Jesus for a while, and they were arguing over who was his favorite. They had, of course, completely missed his message, and the irony was, they were, in effect, trying to decide who missed his message the worst!
Jesus had to call them out by showing them, again, the paradox of power- the ones who give it away most effectively, are the ones who are the most successful.
I think about religious denominations which essentially argue, “Who has the path to God?” In other words, “who are God’s favorites?” The answer is, those who most effectively serve others without worrying about who gets credit. Wars have been fought over which Christian denomination is “right”. Pretty ridiculous, right? Yet it is human nature to be competitive with “closeness to God”.
So, we shouldn’t be too hard on the disciples. They just wanted to be the closest to Jesus. Great goal. The way to do that is to do his will, and to serve his children.
Prayer: Lord, your message is so simple that we often miss it. Thank you for your plan to be childlike to be close to you, Amen.