Matthew 18:1-5, 101 The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
Do you hear the good news? Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Boy, this understanding can certainly turn things upside down on who is the greatest or how we define greatness. In the passage above each of the disciples perhaps thought he has the qualification to be chosen as number 1 or in first place. This is human nature at work.
Be honest: before you read this scripture passage, if you were asked to write the criteria for greatness would it be about achievements, prestige, degrees, wealth, and possessions?
Like the disciples, people want to be number one in their chosen careers. However, none of these human standards matter to Jesus. Now please do not get me wrong, Jesus does not have an issue with gaining wealth or prestige for it is by God they received these gifts. He would, I believe, ask how are we using these gifts to glorify God
Instead, to answer the question, Jesus brought forth a child and mentions humility as the main criterion for greatness in the Kingdom of God. To be humble like a child, we need to be converted, to have a new paradigm. We need to turn away from our propensity to compete with one another and focus on improving ourselves so that we change from our wicked ways and be transformed into the likeness of the Father which was our original nature.
We hold high our independence and self-sufficiency, however, Jesus is teaching us to be like a child, aware of our own powerlessness and vulnerability. To know our dependence must be on God. That it is in the teachings of Jesus we find greatness. Jesus knows that one day all the wealth, power, and prestige will not mean a thing and the sooner we realize this the sooner we will see the Kingdom of God. The goodness of God all around us. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of hearts”, Jesus says in Matthew 11:29
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006