In these next few verses Jesus teaches us a lot about ourselves.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
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.
First of all we need to understand the audience that Jesus is speaking to. He's speaking to his disciples, he's speaking to adults, he's speaking to adults that are more concerned about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven and their motive was to understand and know how to achieve a place of greatness themselves. Jesus immediately teaches them and us a very important lesson. Jesus calls a little boy over to come stand in among them, Jesus uses a little boy to make a point with his self-centered disciples. Here's all these men standing around and suddenly Jesus has this little boy stand there among them and as a comparison he must have looked quite small. I don't think he called the boy over just to make his verbal statement in verse 3 of Matt 18., he brought the boy over to make a visual statement as well. In comparison the disciples would have looked superior to the little child. They were smarter, more intelligent. They had skills and abilities that the child wouldn't have yet. They were stronger, this boy was weak in comparison. They were wiser because they had lived longer and experienced more. Yet Jesus makes a statement that must have floored the men.
Matt 18:3 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Here they go from wondering how to be the greatest to suddenly realizing that unless they become like children they will never enter the kingdom of heaven, much less having a place of greatness. So what is the lesson? What is it that Jesus expected these men to learn from this?
1. We are not to be childish (like the disciples, arguing over petty issues) but childlike with humble and sincere hearts.
2. Children are trusting by nature. They trust adults and through that trust their capacity to trust God grows. We need to pt our faith and trust in God with Childlike faith.
3. Children just want to be loved. Adults want status or recognition, but children just want love.
4. Children are weak and dependent on adults and parents. They have little or no status or influence as a child.
Jesus was telling us that to enter the Kingdom of God we must become like little children. Putting our faith and trust in Him. Seeking to serve rather than seeking positions of advantage. We need to be dependent on the Lord for everything in our lives. If we tell a child we're going to do something then they believe it with all their heart. We should be the same way with God. His word has all kinds of promises for us and we believe it with all our heart because we are His children and He is our Father. As adults we want to always understand intellectually what is going on, then we believe as we can understand, but a child is the opposite of this. They do not understand, they do not yet have the intellect to make decisions based off of facts or experiences. They simply trust and believe because as their parent we tell them it is so. That's all they need to believe, and that's all we need to believe.
The real message here was to the disciples though. Those that had lost their eternal perspective. It happens to us as well when we seek positions of greater recognition in the church for the wrong reasons. When we feel that we are better than others because we do more for God than say... the next person. We have to be careful not to become prideful in our service for fear that it is no longer service but instead, self gratification. How can we tell if we are doing what the disciples were doing?
Are we arguing over petty issues in the church with other believers? If so we've probably lost our focus on Jesus and it's now turned to ourselves and our own desires.
Are we seeking positions for our own agenda or are we willing to go where God leads us?
Are we critical of everyone else and what they do rather than looking for the blessing of God at work in others in whatever way that may be?
It's easy to become self centered... after all we were born that way. But Jesus warns us to be careful and always mindful of children and how they act. They trust and they love willingly and completely. Does this describe you?
It's the only way to Heaven.
God Bless You,