Translated by Allan Liang
During the first severe outbreak of the coronavirus, the Samaritan’s Purse (a charitable organization established by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham) constructed an emergency hospital in New York, gathering numerous volunteers and investing over 20 millions dollars from their own funds to save the sick. Yet the New York government not only refused to express gratitude, but due to the conservative beliefs held by said organization and their denial of gay marriage, responded to them in an unfriendly manner. After the pandemic showed signs of relief, the government immediately made their stance clear: “due to the severity of the pandemic, and the lack of other options, we permitted this hate-driving Franklin to help us, but if we continue to tolerate his presence in New York, we will be offending our values and the LGBTQ community.” Since antiquity, it is no novel and rare thing for Christians to be insulted and mocked while doing acts of kindness, yet this did not prevent Christians from saving the sick, opening hospitals and establishing schools. Why? Because we do all this not for man but for God.
In this passage of Scripture, the disciples argued amongst themselves as to who was the greatest, all wanting to be higher than the rest. Yet Jesus taught them, in the kingdom of God, those who humble themselves to serve others will be among the great. Those who want to be the master will be the slave and those who lower themselves to serve others will be greatly elevated. This is completely unlike the value system of this world. Who is reckoned great in this world? The powerful are considered great; the rich are considered great, without concern for the source of the money - money buys respect; in this age of the internet, having a great number of views and followers causes one to be viewed as great. But Jesus said, he who serves is great, no matter how quiet his service is. So when we serve willingly, even if it is simply washing dishes, dividing food, arranging tables, or teaching several students Sunday school, we are great in the eyes of God. Do not look lightly upon what we do, thinking it is insignificant work. Here, Jesus said that even those who receive a child will not be without a reward. In Jesus’ time, children were not highly regarded, and had no value. In those times, a person’s value was closely related to the amount of money one could make. What value were children who could not produce but only use up resources? Yet even the act of receiving, of serving a child, is of great value in God’s sight, and may also add to our own value.
We serve not only to increase our own value (those who wish only to increase their own value will diminish it), but more so, we serve for the sake of Jesus. Why must we receive little children, serve those who are lowly and serve humbly? Because “whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me” (verse 37). We serve not merely for the sake of serving, rather, we serve for Jesus. When we serve with the attitude of serving Jesus, we no longer serve man but serve God. From the perspective of man, serving another is lowly, but we know that serving God is glorious. Jesus himself became the perfect model of humility for us. Though he was God, he humbled himself, being made into the likeness of man, washed the feet of his disciples, and died for pitiful and wicked sinners so that they would be lifted into glory. The disciples at the time could not understand Jesus’ mission, thinking that Jesus as the Messiah would fulfill David’s role, restoring and bringing the kingdom of Israel into prosperity, hence argued as to who was the greatest, hoping to secure a place of high authority on Jesus’ left and right. But when they later understood what a Lord of humility and service Jesus was, though they had authority, they also served humbly (see Acts 20:19). Let us for the sake of loving Christ, imitate him, and humbly serve, knowing that we will receive abundant rewards in Christ Jesus.
Please pray and meditate: What type of person is great in the kingdom of God? Are you willing to joyfully serve God? What are your motives for serving?
Soli Deo Gloria!