When we make ourselves small, humbling ourselves to serve and welcome even children, we welcome Jesus and we welcome God the Father. The lesser we are the greater we are, because the more present and powerful God is in us. Are you ready to humble yourself?
37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
Luke 9:37-43, 46-50
On the heals of yesterday’s discussion on unity and how God brings us together into his hand, today we see the disciples of Jesus on an ego trip which is a recipe for disaster in the church. Their position as the chosen ones was going to their heads.
We see it come out first in their argument among themselves about which of them would be the greatest. I imagine that Peter, James, and John would have mentioned that they were invited to be on the mountain with Jesus when he was transformed and glorified in front of them. Judas might have thought he was greater as the one responsible for managing their money. Maybe Peter reminded everyone that he was the one who first identified Jesus as Messiah.
Maybe this big-headedness is the reason that in vs 37-40 we see that Jesus’ disciples could not cast out a demon from a boy. His father told Jesus they tried, yet they could not do it. Why? When ego overtakes the presence and power of God within us, our usefulness for God in his mighty works is thwarted.
We see more ego from the disciples in their disdain for other followers of Jesus who were casting out demons in his name. The disciples reported these guys to Jesus, proudly stating that they tried to stop them because they weren’t part of their group. Is this denominationalism starting?
And lest we think this sentiment was novel in the time of Jesus, remember in Numbers 11 when some elders received the Spirit and prophesied. Joshua said to Moses, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:28-29).
When we think we have a corner on the church-market in our towns – like the only people who can do ministry in the name of Jesus is our group, we are set up for a hard fall. Those other guys were successful in casting out demons because their heads weren’t up their own bums. They were focused on serving Jesus for Jesus in Jesus’ name without worrying about personal greatness.
Which brings me back to me. Here’s what Jesus says to me (and you and the rest of his disciples): “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
When we make ourselves small, humbling ourselves to serve and welcome even children, we welcome Jesus and we welcome God the Father. The lesser we are the greater we are, because the more present and powerful God is within us.
I think the unbelieving and perverse generation Jesus called out was his own disciples. They were waning in their faith in Jesus as their own self-importance ballooned. They were perverting the call of Jesus on their lives to the point of calling out others who were getting it right. Holy wow…
Humble yourself in the eyes of the Lord and he will lift you up (1Peter 5:5-6).