"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me." Mark 9:37
Our world is obsessed by status, and that causes a lot of hurt. In our world, people are measured by the color of their skin, the way they dress, how much money they have, and more. In Jesus' day, people were defined by whether they were Jew or Gentile, male or female, religiously clean or unclean, rich or poor, and on and on.
It was this kind of thinking that moved the disciples to argue about whom Jesus loved most. And as soon as Jesus asked what they were talking about, they were embarrassed.
But Jesus didn't get angry. Instead he turned the occasion into a teaching moment. He said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Then he took up a child in his arms and said, "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."
With this beautiful image, Jesus tells us that when we accept him as Savior, we are no longer defined by how we measure up against other people. What defines us is where we stand in relation to Jesus. In Jesus, we are part of a new social structure centered around Jesus. We are like that child, embraced by him. And Jesus' embrace frees us to love and serve all people, no matter what status they have in the world.
Lord Jesus, thank you for welcoming me into your embrace. Help me to love others as unconditionally as you love me, and help me to serve all people in your name. Amen.
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