46 ¶Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. (Luke 9:46-48)
I had lots of questions about what Jesus said here. How does one receive a child in Jesus’s name? Is that like when a woman bears a child? Or does that mean meeting and accepting a child for who they are? Or does that mean accepting a child into the church by baptism? Or does it mean accepting truth even if it is taught in the simplest way by a child?
I think it could be all of these, but most especially I think it could mean accepting a child into the church at baptism, since that would best qualify as “receiving [a] child in [Christ’s] name.” Considering the disciples were wondering who was the greatest, I think Jesus making the child the focus to make the point that EVERYONE in the kingdom of God is to be treated and respected and loved as if they were the greatest, as if they were like Christ. There is to be no excluding or patronizing or pride, no jockeying for status or power. Yes, there must be order in the church, but Jesus clearly didn’t mean that order to divide the church into classes on any account.
How would we treat each other if we were to pretend we were receiving Christ in each other. We are all little embryo Christs anyway, so this is not so far-fetched.
For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great – I think this means that those among us who seem the least talented, the least smart, every “least” we can think of, even the least faithful we should treat as though they are the greatest. (I’ve observed that those who seem to have the least going for them are in need of the most care and attention.) There are echoes here of leaving the 99 and going after the 1.
As I’ve been thinking about these verses, they strike me as one of those sayings that is easy to talk about, but harder (maybe very hard) to put into practice. I’ve been working on it today, and it is wearing me out! But somehow, I sense it could really revolutionize my relationships, so I want to persevere. I sense that it will really help me develop greater charity, the kind of charity I need for the celestial kingdom.
What do you think? Do you want to try it with me?
Image: Carl Bloch, http://www.rickety.us/2011/04/carl-bloch-the-masters-hand/