But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
The crowds continued to seek Jesus for miracles. As soon as he descends the mountain he is accosted by a large crowd. The disciples have apparently begun healing as well, perhaps since they were sent on their mission. But they are not able to heal the boy. (Later when they ask Jesus why, he tells them that kind of demon can only be cast out through fasting and prayer. Faith of the highest kind was necessary to perform the task.) Jesus looks at them and says, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” Jesus almost sounds like me when I ask, “Do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?” But I believe he was lamenting the fact that his disciples lacked full faith and that people continued to seek miracles and healing rather than looking to the kingdom of God. Regardless, he healed the boy and handed him back to his father.
Jesus again predicts his death, but they do not understand. He will not always be there bodily to fix all their problems. Believing Jesus will usher in a messianic kingdom in the way they expect, they are afraid to ask him about this saying.
In fact, they begin to argue about which of them is greatest. Perhaps some were jealous at the attention the three in the inner circle received. Perhaps these three were the very ones who began such arguments. But they all wanted an exalted place in the kingdom they believed was at hand. Jesus takes a child, often devalued in that society, and uses him as an example. Whoever receives and cares for the least is the greatest. Whoever humbles himself is the greatest.
We can be guilty of many of these mistakes. We often seek Jesus when we need help, not to consistently seek his will in furthering the kingdom of God. Our faithlessness and lack of focus on God impede our spiritual growth and impact in this world. We desire to receive praise and attention for our good works rather than pointing to the glory of God. We focus our eyes on the urgent and overlook the "least of these" around us each day. Let us daily seek to focus on and draw our strength from God! And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21