Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.
They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath slam me. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
We get a very clear sense of the upside down aspect of Jesus’ kingdom in this brief passage. We see that victory comes by death, first comes by being last, childlikeness points to maturity, and outsiders are just as much insiders.
Everything about the way that Jesus does things is upside down and backwards from the way that we would expect and the way that the disciples would expect too. When we begin to follow Jesus our perception of reality gets turned on its head.
As I process this passage I think the thing that stands out is the last little bit.
“Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.”
One of the things that my mom taught my brothers and I over the years is that it doesn’t take much to make a difference in the someone’s life. Sometimes, just a smile to the frustrated person in line is enough to change their day.
What do you have to do to give someone a cup of water in the name of Jesus (besides having a cup of water)?
Two things. First, and this may be the most important, you have to show up. You can’t give someone a cup of water if you’re hiding in a church or prayer closet. The reality is that we must find ourselves out among those who need a cup of water. When I was a missionary we used to say that simply showing up was 99% of ministry. I believe this axiom with my whole heart. Showing up and living as a follower of Christ is 99% of our responsibility.
The second thing is that we need to notice that someone is thirsty. This means that we need to be paying attention to those around us. We need to be looking for people to serve and love. There is this odd phenomenon called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Basically, this is what happens when you see or experience something new and then all of a sudden you see that new-to-you thing all over the place. Some friends of ours who work with international students didn’t think the university town they live in had any international students. After they went to a conference to learn more about caring for international students they started seeing them everywhere! When you start looking you start seeing.
One last thought, no matter how small a thing we do to love well, God notices. How great that is that? He notices and he sees. When we love well we can know with certainty that God notices our small, kind, loving act.
Am I showing up? Am I looking for people who are thirsty? Are you?