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And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 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 set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me (Mark 9: 30-37)

Let us mark, in the third place, the peculiar standard of true greatness which our Lord sets before His disciples. He says to them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

These words are deeply instructive. They show us that the maxims of the world are directly contrary to the mind of Christ. The world’s idea of greatness is to rule, but Christian greatness consists in serving. The world’s ambition is to receive honor and attention, but the desire of the Christian should be to give rather than receive, and to attend on others rather than be attended on himself. In short, the man who lays himself out most to serve his fellow men, and to be useful in his day and generation, is the greatest man in the eyes of Christ.

Let us strive to make a practical use of this heart-searching maxim. Let us seek to do good to our fellow men, and to mortify that self-pleasing and self-indulgence, to which we are all so prone. Is there any service that we can render to our fellow Christians? Is there any kindness that we can do them, to help them and promote their happiness? If there is, let us do it without delay. Well would it be for Christendom, if empty boasts of churchmanship and orthodoxy were less frequent, and practical attention to our Lord’s words in this passage more common. The men who are willing to be last of all, and servants of all, for Christ's sake, are always few. Yet these are the men who do good, break down prejudices, convince infidels that Christianity is a reality, and shake the world.

Let us mark, in the last place, what encouragement our Lord gives us to show kindness to the least and lowest who believe in His name. He teaches this lesson in a very touching manner; He took a child in His arms, and said to His disciples, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.”

The principle here laid down is a continuation of that which we have just considered. It is one which is foolishness to the natural man. Flesh and blood can see no other way to greatness than crowns, and rank, and wealth, and high position in the world. The Son of God declares that the way lies in devoting ourselves to the care of the weakest and lowest of His flock. He enforces His declaration by marvelous words, which are often read and heard without thought. He tells us that to receive one child in His name, is to receive Christ, and to receive Christ is to receive God.

There is rich encouragement here for all who devote themselves to the charitable work of doing good to neglected souls. There is encouragement for everyone who labors to restore the outcast to a place in society — to raise the fallen — to gather together the ragged children, whom no man cares for — to pluck the worst of characters from a life of sin, like brands from the burning and to bring the wanderers home. Let all such take comfort when they read these words. Their work may often be hard and discouraging. They may be mocked, ridiculed, and held up to scorn by the world. But let them know that the Son of God marks all they do, and is well pleased. Whatever the world may think, these are they whom Jesus will delight to honour at the last day.

(Adapted from GraceGems website)