“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him and set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” – Jesus (Matthew 8:1-5, cf. Mark 9:33-37)
Have you ever wanted to be considered the “greatest”, or even great, at something? To be recognized for your ability or accomplishment can feel good and very satisfying. This is a normal feeling and desire held by people throughout time. Jesus disciples even struggled among themselves as to whom would be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. And, like many people, it took them a long time to understand what true greatness was about.
In this passage, Jesus used an “object lesson” to illustrate His teaching. Jesus called a child over to him, put the child in their midst, and sat him on His lap. (Imagine being the child who sat on Jesus knee!) He then proceeds to teach His disciples about greatness in His (God’s) Kingdom:
- Must be converted (turn, turn around, convert) – this involves the recognition that a person has done wrong (you and me). Because of that, we fall short of God’s glory/perfection. Because of our sin and wrong we have done; we can never be good enough to be in God’s Kingdom / Heaven. It is only by turning completely to Jesus in faith, and believe like a little child, that you or I can even get into Heaven.
- Must become as a little child – this is to have the simple faith and trust of a child. Believing because you have sinned, you must trust in Jesus ALONE for salvation and forgiveness. To think you can get into heaven because you are a good person is not the humble thinking of a child!
- Must humble oneself as a child to become the greatest – to admit that you have sinned and are not good enough to get to Heaven on your own, even though you think you have lived a good life, is a very humbling belief and action. We want to believe that we can get to Heaven on our own, but Jesus says otherwise.
So, would you rather be “great” in your own eyes, the eyes of other people, or the “greatest” in the Jesus’ eyes, and thus the Kingdom of Heaven? Be converted: admit to God that you are a sinner deserving punishment for your sin. Tell Him you believe He is the One and Only way to have your sins taken away because He gave His blood on the cross and He rose again, and Ask Him to forgive you of your sin, come into your life to save you, and help you to live always for Him. Contact me if you have made that decision.