Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Then Jesus called a little child unto Him, 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.” –Matthew 18:2-3
As Jesus continues his journey through the land with His disciples, He uses this time to prepare his chosen disciples for his imminent death and resurrection and also to strengthen their ministry in carrying on his work. At this point in Jesus’ ministry the disciples are truly convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, but apparently they too have notions of a political Messiah. Despite Jesus’ warning about humility, it is not long before all the disciples begin to dispute among themselves as to who among them is the greatest. Jesus sets a young child before them as an example of humility and also teaches them about temptation, discipline and forgiveness in the chapter.
The theme of this discourse is humility. From our text we can see three reasons that Jesus gives as to why humility is essential:
for entrance into the kingdom (Matt. 18:2-3)
for greatness in the kingdom (Matt. 18:4)
to prevent offences (Matt. 18:5-11)
Jesus used a child to teach his disciples valuable lessons on humility. Instead of arguing over petty issues, they were to be child-like with humble and sincere hearts. The disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom that they had lost sight of its divine purpose. Jesus had started his ministry proclaiming: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). With simple child-like faith people were to repent from sin, receive the Lord so that salvation would be theirs and they would become citizens of God’s Kingdom.
It is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status even in the church. But we are to seek God’s Kingdom first as Jesus taught in Matt.6:33[NLT}: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Besides Jesus Himself modelled a life of humility and unselfishness. Paul emphasizes His example in Philippians 2 and exhorts us: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Phil.2:3)
Children are quite trusting by nature. Because they trust their parents and elders, they are easily led to faith in Christ. God holds parents and the elders accountable for the way they influence these little ones. Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from faith in him will receive severe punishment. Those older in faith are to be careful not to lead astray or despise those younger in faith especially by acts of pride.
Through Jesus’ emphasis on the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:12-14), we understand how much value he gives to the lost ones coming to God’s Kingdom. In Luke 19:10 [NLT] it says: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” He laid down His life and became the “Lamb of God” that takes away the sin of the world. By His death sin’s penalty was paid so that you and I could be made right with God. It’s the Father’s heart cry that we turn to Christ and be saved: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)
Thought for the day: Salvation is the miracle of a moment; growth is the labour of a lifetime. (Anon)