Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Today we come to an interesting scene that begins with a question from the disciples: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)
The answer Jesus gives is set forth in four parts: FIRST: Jesus pulls in a child and declares that no one will enter the kingdom of heaven without becoming like a child. He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)
SECOND: Jesus gets to the question of the disciples more directly and says that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven has the humility of a child.Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)
THIRD: Jesus announces the blessing to those who receive one child such as this that they also are receiving Jesus personally. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5)
FOURTH: Jesus warns of the curse upon those who cause one of these little ones to stumble. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
NOTE that there are basically two conditions to enter the Kingdom. Unless you are converted is the underlying theme here: Converted means to have a change of mind-a change of mind toward Jesus. Unless you become like children-humble, innocent, respectful and most of all, a teachable, tender heart, you cannot be converted in your heart and enter the Kingdom.
So, who are these “children” Jesus is referring to? I see three “children” that may fit what Jesus had in mind:
1. Actual, real young children who are easily influenced. It’s clear to most that the most strategic time to mark a person indelibly is in the younger season of life.
- Young believers who are very new in their faith. They are easily influenced and distracted away from what’s foundational and most important.
- People who are already turned off with spiritual things, due to the many man-made add-ons, yet are searching for something spiritually authentic.
This is a serious issue for Jesus. Your actions and reactions must be pulled into check. Your life isn’t just about you. There are many looking on and following you in your attitudes and actions. You may be the only expression of Jesus some people will ever see with the possibility of a genuine encounter with Jesus. So, it’s important to pay attention to who you are and what you do.