In Jesus' time, and for most of the centuries since, childhood was almost always seen as a less than human condition that was to be beaten out of (Kindle 229-233) children as soon as possible. Therefore when Jesus sets up a little child as an example, he is setting up not a winsome specimen of all that is simple and charming but rather one of life's losers. He is telling his disciples that if they follow him in his mysterious messiahship, they will-like him-have to become something no one has any real use or respect for. He is exalting not the plausible greatness that is the only thing the world understands but the implausible greatness that he himself intends to pursue. He is, in short, proclaiming his own version of what Paul in 1 Cor. 1 later set forth as the "foolishness of the preaching," namely, that God works not in the great, the wise, and the powerful but in the weak and the foolish: (Kindle 233-238).
Questions for discussion:
What does it mean for us to become last?
In what ways are we already lost? Last? Least? Little?