Jesus put a child among His disciples to help answer their concerns about leadership. He hears them arguing about who will be in charge and wants them to hear His heart on the subject. It is the way of the world to want to climb up the hierarchy, but Jesus didn’t operate that way. He said the least would be the greatest and the first would be last. That didn’t make any sense to the men who followed Him, and it still doesn’t makes sense to some.
Hierarchies exist in churches and denominations, just as they do in the world of business. Even little family churches have a chain of command. The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, but they were afraid to ask any more questions. I imagine they were a bit embarrassed by being caught in a conversation about power.
Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Then he put a little child 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.”
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded. (Mark 9:30-41 NLT)
John changes the topic in hopes of getting approval from Jesus. He tells Him they stopped someone who was casting out demons in His name. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that whoever is not against us is for us. I so wish the Christian community could get that through their thick heads. His disciples are still arguing over who’s right, who’s wrong, who knows best, and who’s in charge. Some things do not change, and I know that breaks God’s heart.
We are all part of the same body, and I pray that one day we will behave in a manner that doesn’t go against the intentions of Christ to unify and bring peace to His body. Christ came so we could be one as He and His Father are One. That happens when we quit worrying about getting up the ladder, being the leader, and taking charge.