Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

November 18, 2004

Welcome, in the Name of Jesus

I love the Gospel of Mark. I’m not sure why I love it more than the others, but I do. This morning I read chapter 9. There’s so much in this chapter: first of all, the “transfiguation” of Jesus. Next, the heart-rending cry of the father of a demon-possessed boy, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That’s a prayer, by the way, that no Christian should ever think himself above. But the passage that really touched me this morning is where Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The disciples had been bickering among themselves about who would be first in the kingdom of God. Now Jesus is illustrating to them a singular point: whoever would be first must be the very last, and the servant of all. Even, emphasizing the point, the servant of a little child. For to welcome is, in one sense, to serve. The host at the banquet must serve the guests. Although in another sense he is first, he makes himself last. His will is that his guests have peace and joy at his expense.

In terms of authority, that child is last in the pecking order. To welcome a child is not like welcoming, say, a prince, whom one may be obligated to honor, and from whom one might even receive favor in return. People are often impressed by the “quality” of the guests at a party. High-rollers, bigwigs, VIPs. It is supposed that such guests reflect honor back on the host. But to welcome a child is to welcome “the least.” To welcome a child is make oneself a servant of the one who can do nothing in return. It reminds me of the parable of the wedding feast, in which the host instructs his servants to go into the roads and invite even the homeless to come in and party with him.

To welcome is to offer peace. To welcome is to say, "I am at your disposal. I wish to serve your interests. I wish to give you joy." At the end of his time on earth Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” That was in the upper room, where the disciples were gathered in great trepidation about the future. And Jesus is suddenly and miraculously among them, and he says, “Peace be with you,” and he shows them the scars by which He'd purchased that very peace. And then He says, "Now you go into the world, as my ambassadors, offering what I have offered. Serving as I have served. Welcoming as I have welcomed."

I want to enter into this day with an attitude of welcome to all I meet. I want the attitude of my heart to be, “I welcome you in the name of Jesus.” And the Father will be there, and peace, the peace of the Lord, will be with us.


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