How often does Jesus seem to speak in riddles?! The disciples did not understand what he meant when he told them that he would be betrayed into human hands, be killed and three days later rise again. He was teaching them, but they lacked understanding and were afraid to ask him to explain. We have probably done the same ourselves on many occasions, when we have listened to words, without truly understanding what was being said. Sometimes, though, it is not given to us to fully understand until some unknown time in the future, when all will become clear.
The other riddle in the gospel reading is concerned with “who is the greatest”. Jesus must have been what we would call a charismatic character and also someone who made others, particularly, in this case, the disciples, feel very special. In typical style, he brings them to their senses by putting a child amongst them and saying those familiar words, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ So everyone is equally important, only God is the greatest.