Questions for Littles: Through where did they pass in v30? Whom did Jesus want to know it? What three things that would happen to Him was Jesus teaching His disciples (v31)? Did they understand (v32)? Why didn’t they ask about it? Where did He come in v33? What did He ask them in the house? Why did they keep silent (v34)? Whom did Jesus call to Himself in v35? What did HE tell them in that verse? Whom did Jesus set in their midst in v36? What did He do with that child? When He had done this, what does He say in v37? What does John say they had seen in v38? What does John say that they had done? But what does Jesus say not to do (v39)? Why not—what couldn’t those who do actual miracles in Christ’s name do? What does their giving praise to Christ’s name, and God’s permitting them to do miracles in Christ’s name, show about them (v40)? What is another way that all believers show that they have a reward that they cannot lose (v41)? But what if, instead of doing good to someone because he belongs to Christ, they cause one of Christ’s little ones to stumble (v42)?In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus is patiently teaching His disciples that following a crucified Christ is all about glorifying that Christ through self-denying service to others.
Jesus was teaching them that it was all about His death and resurrection (v31), while they were preoccupied with just how much it would be about them (v33-34).
What a picture Jesus gave them—taking up a little child in His arms. When He talks about receiving one of the little children in His name, He is holding that child. Service to other Christians is for the sake of Him who treasures them and cares for them.
And this isn’t only true for those who have few years. The same principle applied to the disciples themselves (v41). How great are they? No more than that little child. The greatness all belongs to Christ and His Name.
That’s also the point about the miracles, isn’t it? If someone really did a miracle in Jesus’s name, it was only because Jesus had granted to him to be able to do it.
Today, there are sometimes very vocal “unity” people who might come to a passage like this and say, “See? We shouldn’t exclude anybody, and we should try to make everybody feel good about themselves like Jesus did for that child.”
How ironic it would be to abuse the passage this way, in light of v31! Anyone who denies the truth about Jesus is definitely on the outside here, and in need of correction. And there is a whole lot of “not feeling good” that comes along with realizing how bad our sin is and what had to be done about it.
But we are also in danger of allowing a proper concern for precision to turn into personal hostility and even isolation. This can happen when we focus primarily upon whether someone is in error on something, or even worse, whether that person is with us. As we have learned multiple times recently, our weakness of understanding has led to a situation in which faithful believers cannot all take our vows together.
But we can surely still value one another and serve one another! Indeed we must! So, how will we steer clear of the dangers in this passage? The answer is in the main theme of the passage: by keeping our focus upon the glory of Christ, treasuring and serving whom He does!
Whom have you been treasuring and serving for the sake of Christ? Whom should you be?Suggested songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or HB435 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”