Lessons in humility

Despite Jesus’ statement to his disciples that he was heading towards humiliating suffering and death (Matt 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:44-45), they were arguing among themselves about who would have the important places in his kingdom. Jesus rebuked them, explaining that the way to spiritual greatness is through choosing the lowest place and serving others. To enter the kingdom of God, people must humbly accept that they have no more status than a child. Receiving Christ is not concerned with prestige as in the case of those who receive an earthly king. It is as humble an act as receiving a small child (Matt 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48).

If people want to be disciples of Jesus, they should not despise those who appear weak and insignificant. Indeed, they should take severe action against themselves to remove from their lives anything that might cause them to follow their own desires instead of submitting to Jesus. Wrong desires prevent people from receiving Jesus and lead only to hell (Matt 18:6-9; Mark 9:42-48). God will test and cleanse the disciples, but if they want to be useful for him in leading people to Jesus, they must cease their quarrelling and make sure that they themselves are pure in heart (Mark 9:49-50).

Jesus’ disciples should have a loving concern for the weak, the helpless and the lost. They should not want any to miss out on his salvation (Matt 18:10-14). They must love others, and not act like those who tried to stop a man from casting out demons in Jesus’ name because he did not belong to Jesus’ apostolic group. The man feared God, and God used him to deliver people from the power of evil. He was not an enemy of Jesus, and the apostles were not to despise him or hinder him in his work. If people do acts of kindness to others, and do them with the right motives, God will reward them no matter how insignificant those acts may appear to be (Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50).

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