Scripture: Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Observation: Jesus’ disciples continue to think of Jesus as cut from the same cloth as ancient King David – a great military and political leader who ruled Israel in its heyday, many centuries before Jesus. This is their mental image of “Messiah”. And, of course, if they are his closest disciples they expect to rule next to Jesus – in a place of great power and privilege. Jesus’ response to their question about greatness in the Kingdom must have been confusing. Why? Because children in Jesus’ day had no power or authority. They were very low on the food chain, much more so than today.
Application: I have to admit this passage challenges me. Like most people, I’m okay with the idea of humility and child-likeness, but actually living that way is very hard. I have been taught how to win, succeed, achieve – not how to submit. I’ve learned how to protect myself, advocate for myself, stand my ground – not to be counted last. I wonder, where is my resistance to becoming “humble like this child” getting in my way? So long as I seek to be great in the way the world around me understands greatness, I will never experience the full blessing of God’s Kingdom.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, humility is not my strong suit – I admit it. Give me grace to embrace the upside-down realities of God’s Kingdom. Help me to become more like a child once again. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.