Matthew 18:1-4, July 19, 2020
Not Of This World
18:1-4 Kingdom of Heaven.
Greatness. Their grasp or idea of greatness came from the world. Jesus wants to change the understanding they had. And He wants to change our understanding as well.
Change. The disciples had to change or turn from their ideas of greatness in the world. To change their ideas would change their actions, just as it will or did for us. To turn from one way of thinking was to turn to another way of thinking.
Unless. Now back to chapter 18:3 unless we change and take on the posture of being destitute of ourselves – a kind of humility understanding who Jesus really is and who He is not – we have no place in heaven. Getting to heaven is really all about Jesus.
Humility. It is not about some form of self belittling. In fact it is not thinking about yourself at all. It is thinking about other people, putting others literally before yourself. Only with this attitude can we really serve others.
The World. The world is all about pride, accomplishment, and the big one – self esteem! This self-esteem concept has been pushed for at least the last 2 or 3 decades of my life. And look at where we are today. Self-esteem is not about feeling good about yourself, but feeling good about our sin. Thus it is a lie.
God’s eyes. God sees us as we really are no matter how much we cover it up before Him. We need to see ourselves as God sees us, as we truly are. In His eyes we are morally bankrupt. How do we get out of this situation?
18:4. It is in verse 4 Jesus directly answers the question of the disciples, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Let’s read v4 again. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Okay we have read it, but what does it mean? Frankly not much in context of our world today, but 2000 years ago it meant something quite different. For us, rights are a big deal. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights.
#1 No rights. No way to demand their way. The thoughts, emotions, and voice of a child are not even considered and are likely not permitted to even express them. Yet Jesus says there is something about this child that is great.
Jesus – like this child – set aside His rights until He had none.
What is unusual and unique about Jesus using this child as an example of greatness?? Doing so is an act of humility on His part, because He is the best example of how to be the greatest in heaven and He uses a child to make His point. Turn back to 17:2 where Jesus real nature is revealed to us. Then in 17:7 where He is simply a man. This man, God in the flesh will soon die on a cross for our sins. He is the ultimate example of humility. Consider Philippians 2:6-8
So Jesus could have said keep your eyes on me, watch me, imitate me, follow me, but instead uses a child as an example.
What did Jesus say about Himself? In John 10:11 He said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Can we do the same? Not really, but we are called to an attitude of sacrificial service to Him and Others.
This is something we normally – almost always – do not like to acknowledge. You don’t. I don’t. After all sometimes people simply get in the way of what I want to do … ME ME ME.
Then the Holy Spirit makes me remember – especially when I have this attitude – that Jesus gave His life for me. He gave everything up for me. He gave up His life, even His connection with His Father for the first and last time in all of eternity.
Then He tells us to look at this child and see in this child the solution to the kingdom of God and greatness therein.
What we do and endure in giving our lives to the kingdom of God, to other people, even when we don’t want to do so, especially when we don’t want to do so, is when we are getting it right.
For the kingdom of God is not ME centric, but Jesus centric, then Others centric, and then finally yourself. J.O.Y.
Jesus teaching in these four verses is for us to get out of our comfort zone, to become other centric, even to the point of death – especially of our pride. Will you take a few INVITE cards today to share? Or will you be too concerned with what others might think of you?
Remember the words from Philippians 2:6-8. Let’s look at the verses that preceded what Paul wrote here. Philippians 2:1-5
Jesus carries this on through the last supper where He washed the feet of His disciples. A task assigned to the lowest servant! His example of a child with no rights, but innocent as well. Greatness is a humble child like humility while considering the needs of others to the point of making them your own.
NOT OF THIS WORLD