Greatest and Least: More than Moral Teaching

Our devotional message is based on the appointed lectionary reading for the Gospel this week: Mark 9:33–35:

[33] And they came to Capernaum. And when he (Jesus) was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” [34] But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. [35] And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 

In a society that promotes and glorifies the “self,” there are still examples of selflessness. 

A number of years ago a friend and I had a conversation with a flight attendant at the end of a plane trip. She said she previously worked for a competing airline and had to wait years to get hired by this airline. We asked if this airline was truly that much better than her prior employer.

She asked if we noticed a passenger wearing a shirt with the airline logo suddenly start helping the attendants in the middle of the flight. We had. She said a fellow attendant became ill during the flight. The man noticed and volunteered to finish the ill attendant’s shift, refreshing drinks and collecting trash. Then she identified the man: 

“He is one of the three founders of the airline. That’s why I work here.” 

Jesus’ teaching about the greatest and the least went beyond guidance for the Christian life. Earlier he had privately shared about his coming crucifixion and resurrection (Mark 9:30-32). In our passage, Jesus is also preparing his disciples for the day when He will become the absolute least of all people, carrying the sins of the world upon His shoulders. God then Father would then make Jesus the greatest by raising Him from the dead. 

We take on the role of least in response to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). May our living as the least open the door to witness about the greatest, even our Lord Jesus Christ.  

(These devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District – LCMS)

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