God’s Word for You
Mark 9:36-37 whoever welcomes me
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 6, 2020
36 Jesus took a little child and stood him among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me doesn’t just welcome me, but also the one who sent me.”
This incident is a children’s devotion in reverse. Rather than use an object lesson to teach a child something that adults would already grasp; Jesus used a child as an object lesson to teach adults something they needed to learn. Verse 36 is somewhat awkward to translate since Mark presents four consecutive actions from Jesus: He took a child (the diminutive “little child” is always in the neuter in Greek; we don’t know whether the child was a boy or a girl), then he stood the child, after this he embraced the child, and then he spoke. Mark omits something Jesus said (Matthew 18:3-4), but we don’t need to know what was omitted to understand and apply the passage. If we do nothing here but take Mark’s text as written (which is always a good idea in the Gospels), we see an excellent gospel sermon. How does God welcome us? The same way anyone joyfully welcomes a child in his household, with nothing but love. We are cherished by our heavenly father because we are his.
Secondly, when we perform the act in this lifetime of welcoming and loving a child, any child, in the name of Jesus, we are blessed and do the good work of God in his kingdom. Being kind and loving to a child nourishes that child and helps them grow into stable, well-adjusted youth and adulthood. Serving the needs of a child is always a task to be done for the glory of God, whether that child is my own or not.
Thirdly, when we love a child out of love for Jesus, we are loving Jesus himself. Jesus wants us to show our love for him in our love for others, and that begins with little children, even though they will not be able to respond with the same love. Is that not the very love we have for Jesus? Which of us, God’s children, could ever show our love for Jesus in the way he showed each and every one of us?
Fourthly, Jesus tells us that these acts show our love for the Father, because everything we do for the Son we also do out of love for the Father. It is impossible to have faith in Jesus without having an equal faith in the Father, and in response to every other religion in the world that attempts to say otherwise, it is equally impossible to truly have faith in God the Father without also confessing one’s faith in Jesus Christ his Son. So whoever rejects Christ as the Son of God rejects the Father, but whoever embraces the Son embraces the Father who sent him.
Mommys, big sisters, big brothers, and Daddys: Love the little ones in your life. Maybe your little ones are not so little. Maybe you have neighbors to look after, or the neighbor’s pets when they go on vacation. This, too, is a way of serving Christ, because “a righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10). Love each other, and know that you are loving your Lord in heaven.
Pastor Timothy Smith