Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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True Greatness: Mark 9:33-37 9/30/2012


33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.
35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

ESV Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them
3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

On the way to the next town of Capernaum, the disciples, now all twelve of them, were discussing/arguing a question that had arose amongst them concerning who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Let us think a little about this question as to why it could have come up. We know from previous scripture accounts that Jesus had included three of the disciples, Peter, James and John in the raising of the ruler's daughter (Mark 5:37) and He had taken only those three up on the mountain where He was transfigured. Also, Peter had been the one to go to the sea to get the coin out of the mouth of the fish that Jesus had called to come to Peter. (Matthew 17:27)

It would have been an interesting discussion that was happening among the twelve, for the 3 who had come off of the mountain with Jesus were commanded not to say what they had seen and heard, they had come upon the other nine who had failed at casting out the deaf and dumb spirit out of the boy and had seen Jesus cast out the evil spirit. Was there a tension between them that threatened to separate them because of envy, jealousy, pride and hatred? Was there a sense of one upmanship with the 3 as they looked on their being with the Master and as they looked on the 9 in their failure? Was there a sense of envy, jealousy and hatred with the 9 as they looked at their failure and at the 3 who were "teacher's pet?" We don't know for sure, but through life's experience we know that these could be possiblities as to why they asked the question of who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Putting the two Gospels together, we could say that perhaps, Jesus, knowing their thoughts, asked them what they were talking about that they came to him with the question (Matthew 18:1). Jesus began to answer them with words and then by putting a child in front of them. In our text from Mark, He not only put a child before them, but is says that He took the child in His arms...He loves children, He loves all His created children, all of them. .Is not this how it is for us in our day, that when we are troubled in our flesh that the Spirit comes with a question into our heart and it is only when we ask of the Word that we are able to recieive counsel and correction as to the right path? Yes, there is a similarity between then and now. Let us ask of Him by the Spirit and the Word....Jesus now gives the answer to them.


He (Matthew 18:2-3) says to them: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

KJV Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

As we wrote earlier, Jesus spoke to them, and in Mark's gospel it is recorded that He sat down in order to teach them. We can relate to this aspect of teaching today, for when we have had need of being counseled one has been asked to sit down in order to be instructed by a teacher who is also sitting down. He did not rebuke them for their question of who is the greatest, as they to this point did not understand that greatness was in loving and serving, but he pointed to the condition of greatness: "You must be last of all and servant of all." We who live today can easily see that Jesus had spoken of His greatness earlier in the day when He had told them that "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise." But they did not as of yet understand what He was about.

So why did Jesus take a child in His arms? He answers that for us, when He says that we must humble ourselves as the little child. What is it to be humble like a child? It is to be dependent on one's parents for there is no way that we can take care of ourselves. This is what Jesus is saying, when we are dependent on Him, we are great in His sight. That is it, it is not complicated at all, but it is impossible for our human pride to ever allow another to take care of us. The is the first condition of greatness....He continues on with another ingredient of greatness in his kingdom.

Jesus moves from our attitude of humility toward him/dependence on Him to our attitude towards the children that we are to care for. As He is holding the child in His embrace of love, He continues on to say that "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."

What is He saying to us? What does it mean to receive a child? What does it mean to receive a child in "my name?" To receive a child would be to care for its needs, for it is not able to care for itself. And could we not broaden that to include anyone who is not able to care for themselves?

To receive such a child in 'my name" would be to recognize that each child/human being is made in the image of God and is to be respected and cared for. This is first of all to be done within the household of faith, but it is not limited to them only. This is greatness, to care for the other. For He goes on to say that when we care for a little child such as the one He is embracing, we are caring for Him as well as that we are caring for His Father. We are caring for God when we care about a little child..................or someone who needs our help.

Jesus gives further teaching on what His teaching here in our text in the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel.

1 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,1 you did it to me.'
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'
45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

In particular, let us notice verse 40: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Now we have heard from the Lord today concerning what is true greatness. First of all it is admitting that we cannot take care of ourselves and we need the Lord to take care of us. Secondly, we understand that having come to this realization of our dependence on Him, we are to demonstrate this care to those who need us to take care of them. In the 25th chapter of Matthew, we see that there were those who were hungry, those who were thirsty, those who were in need of visiting, those who are in prison, those who are in need of clothing and those who are in need of healing and those who are in prison.

As we think on our dependence on the Lord today and of His abundant care and provision for us, are there those that you are aware of who are in need of our care today? If you are able to take care of this need by yourself, please do so. But if this care would require more of us to be involved, please share this information with me so that we can together serve this need. There are many many people who are in need of our care.

This week I have been approached by a family that in the past we have cared for, but yet which still needs our care. At my request, this family has provided me with a list of things that they have need of. The list includes:

"Towels, wash rags, area rugs, dishes, pots and pans, blankets, lights, cleaning supplies, broom and any other household supplies that you can think of. All our money is gone for rent and the deposit, so any gift cards would be appreciated."

Also, you may contact me on the website at kingstonalc.com if you so wish to help this family in their need. There is a list at the back of the church on which you could describe any items that you would wish to give to the Engman's.

Let us pray.

Lord, you have demonstrated true greatness to us through serving us for our salvation by your coming to earth, you gave yourself for us as payment for our sins, you have arose from the dead, you have ascended to heaven, you have called us to repentance and faith and you have given us your Holy Spirit as a gift unto us. You now live in us and through us, so that our life is yours. Lord, we are entirely dependent upon you for everything, you are faithful to your promises in that you have provided and will provide everything that we need. Lord, we are like little children, dependent on you for all these things. Lord, we trust you for our future. On this basis, Lord help us to care for others around us so that they may be cared for as an extension of your care. May it be, Lord, that through the outpouring of love for those in need in practical ways, that they would come to see your love for them through us.

Dear Father, help us to serve first of all the children in our own congregation, to care for their souls, by praying for them, by presenting ourselves as a mentor or teacher, and by learning from their example of dependence on you.

Lord, we pray for Dale Huro today, as he waits upon you for your healing in his body. Lord, through this trial in his life, may his need be met by the caring hearts and lives of those in whom you live. Lord, we hurt for him, move us Lord to care for people like Dale. Lift him his eyes up to heaven, from where all help comes from.

And Father, our Father, we pray for Andy, for Erica, and Payslea Engman, who are in need. Father, your storehouse of provision has no limits, but you send it through those who are connected in Spirit with you.
Lord, most of us do not know what it is to be homeless, but they do. Lord, we know there are many more like the Engman's who need to be served by people such as ourselves. Lord, would it be possible for you to bring some more of them to us? We love you, we are dependent on you, and may it be that we could be vessels of blessing for others so that they would see you in us and they would come to know Jesus as their Saviour.


Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us1 that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ we are one,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 30 Sep 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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