Mark 9:36-37

HELPING THE HELPLESS IS HELPING CHRIST

Mk. 9:36-37

Jesus took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And he took him up in the crook of his arm and said to them, “Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me, but him who sent me.”

Jesus is here still dealing with the worthy and the unworthy ambition.

He took a child and set him in the midst. Now a child has no influence at all; a child cannot advance a man’s career nor enhance his prestige; a child cannot give us things. It is the other way round. A child needs things; a child must have things done for him. So Jesus says, “If a man welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence and no wealth and no power, the people who need things done for them, he is welcoming me. More than that, he is welcoming God.” The child is typical of the person who needs things, and it is the society of the person who needs things that we must seek.

There is a warning here. It is easy to cultivate the friendship of the person who can do things for us, and whose influence can be useful to us. And it is equally easy to avoid the society of the person who inconveniently needs our help. It is easy to curry favour with the influential and the great, and to neglect the simple, humble, ordinary folk. It is easy at some function to seek the society and the notice of some distinguished person, and to avoid the poor relation. In effect Jesus here says that we ought to seek out not those who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things, for in this way we are seeking the society of himself. This is another way of saying, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt.25:40).

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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