The disciples come across as so “human” in this story. First they are so confused by what Jesus is saying about his fate that they don’t even raise a question for fear of looking stupid, an emotion all school children relate to (and many of us adults). Then they are arguing among themselves about which one is the greatest! — like a group of children choosing leaders for a game they aren’t sure how to play. When Jesus calls them on it — you’d think they would know by now that he knows the inner secrets of people’s hearts! — you can see them looking down and keeping their mouths shut, like children caught doing something they know they shouldn’t.
It’s fascinating, then, that Jesus brings a child into their midst and welcomes the child. Jesus is chiding them for their all-too-human need to be “first,” but he is also welcoming them as they are — as children. We try so hard to look smart (or just not look stupid), to be the greatest, and Jesus knows it. In fact it is just these tendencies — knowledge, power and control — that cause so much trouble in “religion,” as Jesus often points out to the religious authorities.
Can you hear yourself welcomed by Jesus despite what you don’t know and your desire to be “first”?
(From our Kairos online scripture discussion)