Matthew 18:1-6Amplified Bible
Rank in the Kingdom
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and set him before them, 3 and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever [a]humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives and welcomes one [b] child like this in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Growing Up to Become a Child
What does the man, Rabbi Jesus, mean by saying to his disciples that we each need to “change and become like the little children who are among us”?
One clue we have here is that Jesus is responding to the question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And he replies, “Whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Gospel narratives about Jesus and his disciples (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we somehow find that the disciples often argued over which of them was, is and is about to become greatest; they seem to have been a competitive group.
And it seems they were thinking of greatness in terms of authority, leadership, knowledge, power, influence, “one above equals,” thrones and of other things.
So Jesus is seemingly telling all of his disciples that they need to change their attitudes about greatness and to become lowly and humble like little children.
Jesus’ followers, whether ancient or contemporary need to die to their selfish ambitions, realize that, just as little children depend on parents and caregivers, we are all totally dependent on Father God for all our needs and future living.
Here’s another hypothetical thought. A man in his sixties said, “Last week my five-year-old grandson said he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. I replied, ‘And when I grow up, I want to be a five-year-old boy.’ My grandson stared at me with wide, wondering eyes.”
Have you looked around at your own children or grandchildren and pictured yourself having such a “wide eyed wondering hypothetical conversation?”
Have you looked around at God’s world with “wide, wondering eyes” lately?
That’s something which I long for when I look at my own almost nine year old grandson when hear the clarion call to change and to become like a little child.
Descriptions of a Childlike Faith
Rabbi Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 18:3 about them not entering the kingdom of heaven unless they are converted and become as little children speak volumes and volumes of truth of the importance of living a childlike faith.
But what is childlike faith?
What makes one’s faith childlike?
Faith which is Rooted in Security
During the days of childhood, one learns how to survive and prosper, how to live under authority, how to live, love and share, and how to serve and praise.
A well-cared-for child has no worries about house or car or any credit card payments, no anxious moments over getting married to the right one, career or job opportunities, no apprehensions about failure, no thoughts of vengeance.
David exemplified this kind of faith while he was on the run from Saul.
Psalm 131:1-2Amplified Bible
Childlike Trust in the Lord.
A Song of [a]Ascents. Of David.
131 Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child [resting] with his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me [composed and freed from discontent].
In Psalm 131:1-2, David compared the calmness and serenity he had in the Lord to that of a weaned child with his mother.
Composed, content with God and the works He was doing in his life, David did not concern himself with great matters such as any selfish ambition and self-promotion – rather, he found serenity and security in his relationship with God.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord. (Psalm 23:6)
To have a childlike faith is to find serenity and security in our relationship with God no matter the circumstance.
Faith Which Praises
Jesus loved children. He loved to use children to teach hard-headed and hard-hearted grown-ups about faith and praise.
While preaching in the region of Judea, Christ was encircled by a great crowd.
Matthew 19:13-15Amplified Bible
Jesus Blesses Little Children
13 Then children were brought to Jesus so that He might place His hands on them [for a blessing] and pray; but the disciples reprimanded them. 14 But He said, “Leave the children alone, and do not forbid them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After placing His hands on them [for a blessing], He went on from there.
He later reminded the priests and scribes that “the mouth of babes and nursing infants” would offer praise fitting for God’s Anointed (Matthew 21:16).
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a very great multitude that included children cried out saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!
The sound of the children praising Jesus in the temple courts made the chief priests and scribes indignant.
In response, Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2.
God does not only want prayer in His house, He also delights in praise.
To have a childlike faith is to have a heart that always longs to praise and glorify God in each and every life’s circumstance.
Faith Which Believes
Jesus used the lad with the five barley loaves and the two small fish to feed five thousand people (John 6:9).
To show His power over death, Jesus used a little girl. Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, fell at Jesus’ feet begging Him to come to his house and save his dying twelve-year-old daughter.
Jesus agreed and tried to make His way with Jairus, but the surrounding crowd made the trip difficult.
Word came that Jairus’ daughter had died.
But Jesus responded, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).
At the house, as the parents wept over their loss, Jesus said, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52).
Through tears, the people laughed at the impossibility of what they heard.
Jesus then asked everyone to leave the room, and then He said, “Little girl, arise” (Luke 8:54), and she did!
Romans 4:17 says that “God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”
Jesus spoke to the girl with the power of God, and she was raised from the dead.
Jairus’ faith definitely played a part in the miracle healing of his daughter just like the faith of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years had made her well (Luke 8:43-48).
Nothing is impossible with God if we would just believe.
This is what it means to have childlike faith.
Faith Which is Humble
Another time, Jesus used a child to teach humility.
In Matthew 18:1-5, we read how the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and how did Jesus respond?
He called a little child to Him, set the little child 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.”
He then went on to say, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”
The fact that Jesus had been sharing with the disciples that truth about His approaching suffering and death did not affect them for they were thinking only of, about themselves and what position they would have in His Kingdom.
So self-absorbed were the disciples in this matter that they actually argued with each other in the presence of Rabbi Jesus himself (Luke 9:46).
Pride – the very sin that caused Satan to be cast down from heaven is what’s causing people to think of themselves more highly than others.
When Christians are living for themselves and not for others, conflict and division are bound to result (James 4:1-2).
True humility means knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being ourselves – our best self – to the glory of God ALONE!.
It means avoiding two extremes:
Thinking less of ourselves than we ought to (as did Moses when God called him, Exodus 3:11), or thinking more of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3).
The truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given him or her but uses them to the glory of God.
The truly humble person also helps to build up others, not to tear them down.
Hebrews 12:1-3Amplified Bible
Jesus, the Example
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of [a]witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, [b]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This person is a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block.
This person is a building block not a stumbling block.
Thus, we must seek to remove from our lives anything that makes us stumble.
If we don’t, we will cause others to stumble as well.
Which Jesus Himself said was not a very good, very healthy, very wise, idea.
Matthew 18:6Amplified Bible
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
An unspoiled child has the characteristics that make for humility: trust, dependence, a desire to make others happy, and an absence of boasting or selfish desires to be greater than others.
By our nature, we are all rebels who want to be celebrities instead of servants.
And so we need a great deal of teaching for us to learn the lesson of humility.
Concluding Thoughts ….
As Christians, we are encouraged to have childlike faith.
To have faith like a child is to completely embrace, trust our heavenly Father’s goodness, care, provision, leadership, His security, vigilance and protection.
Have you experienced the peace of a well-cared-for child in letting Jesus take care of your worries?
Have you found the healing that faith in Jesus brings?
Have you praised His name with the joy of a child?
Have you answered Jesus’ call in childlike faith, asking Him to be your Savior?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 17The Message
17 1-2 Listen while I build my case, God,
the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear.
Show the world I’m innocent—
in your heart you know I am.
3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
surprise me in the middle of the night—
You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.
My words don’t run loose.
4-5 I’m not trying to get my way
in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way,
your Word’s way.
I’m staying on your trail;
I’m putting one foot
In front of the other.
I’m not giving up.
6-7 I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.
So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
straight to you.
8-9 Keep your eye on me;
hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,
from mortal enemies closing in.
10-14 Their hearts are hard as nails,
their mouths blast hot air.
They are after me, nipping my heels,
determined to bring me down,
Lions ready to rip me apart,
young lions poised to pounce.
Up, God: beard them! break them!
By your sword, free me from their clutches;
Barehanded, God, break these mortals,
these flat-earth people who can’t think beyond today.
I’d like to see their bellies
swollen with famine food,
The weeds they’ve sown
harvested and baked into famine bread,
With second helpings for their children
and crusts for their babies to chew on.
15 And me? I plan on looking
you full in the face. When I get up,
I’ll see your full stature
and live heaven on earth.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.