Matthew 18:1-3 - At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Who's the greatest? That's a question we often hear. We want heroes, powerful men and women who can overcome the odds, do great and mighty things. Why do we want to know what our favorite performer or athlete has to say about this or that? Well, perhaps many of us hope we can glean something from them—some nugget of wisdom, some insight into the workings of humanity. And then maybe we too can gain more power, prestige, and control.
I think that's what Jesus' disciples were looking for from Him. He was a big deal in their world. They heard Him speak; they saw the miracles of healing and feeding and even walking on water. They were on the inside track of His new kingdom; they were His chosen ones. Now they wanted to know what that might mean for them.
So they asked Jesus a very modern question: "Who is the greatest?" But why? Did they really want to know if Jesus was proud of them? Did they really want to know if they met His high standards for leadership and service? Quite possibly not. I don't think their concern was over excellence or holiness or faithfulness from God's point of view. No, they—like many of us—just wanted to know who's in charge!
So who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? It's the one totally dependent on God as his Source of life and strength—like a little child. A child looks to his or her mom and dad, looks to the one who loves and cares for them. That's why Jesus calls a little child to Him in their presence. He's showing His disciples that their greatness and strength with God comes from knowing they're completely dependent on Him, from knowing that He alone is the One they should trust.
That's one reason why Christians call themselves "children of God." It's not because we're young and naïve. It's not because we're trying to avoid the tough questions and issues of life. No, it's because we never want to forget the ultimate Source of our strength, our wisdom, our life, even our peace in this tense world.
As children of God we place our trust in Him who provides all things for us. So think about your spiritual life with God in Christ this week. It is there you will find the power to face the tough decisions in your job, your personal life, your family life. Be powerful like a child who trusts a Savior who really loves them!
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, give me the faith of a child to trust in You in all things! Amen.
From "Like a Child," a message from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Do you know any child who might be called heroic or powerful? For what reasons?
2. For those who are adults, how might we incorporate positive childlike traits into our lives?
3. Were there qualities you had as a child that you wished you had more of now? What has changed?
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