At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 18:1-4
Jesus was constantly talking about the kingdom of God – and that it was soon coming. His disciples wondered what sort of traits would be necessary to succeed in this kingdom.
Notice that Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question comes in two parts. First, He tells them that they must be “converted and become like children” in order to enter the kingdom at all. Second, He tells them humbling themselves “as this child” (that is, the one in front of them) is what will make them great in God’s kingdom. Let’s take these two points one at a time.
In saying that His disciples needed to be “converted,” He is telling them that they are not currently in the childlike mode they’ll need. This current deficiency of theirs is not so much of a problem because Jesus is there with them. However, once He ascends into heaven and is physically removed from them, they’ll need a childlike attitude in order to approach Him and receive from Him as a heavenly Father. That is, they’ll need a childlike faith because they’ll no longer be able to see Jesus with their physical eyes.
The second point Jesus makes is about “this child.” Remember that Jesus “called a child to Himself and set him before them.” Think about the trust it took for that child to answer Jesus’ call and allow himself to be gawked at by all these grown men who were seeking to learn from Jesus. It could have seemed very intimidating to the child, but we hear nary a peep from him. Apparently, he was willing to be on display…for Jesus.
Jesus is calling us to live our lives before Him – and before all the angels of heaven. Will we respond as humbly as did that child on that day?
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, I will live today as Your child. Help me think about how my thoughts might need to be changed right now in order to achieve this…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)