Saturday, March 21, 2020 -
Today in our Bible study we covered the first six verses of Matthew 18, which must be looked at in conjunction with chapter 17 and especially Mark’s account of the same incident, in Mark 33:37, where we find that the disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven for quite some time. Jesus knew their thoughts, their hearts, and their private conversation and arguments. No doubt they were limited in their perception of what the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, represented. They understood Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, but lacked the comprehension as to the ultimate purpose of His coming, as Jesus had just begun to reveal it to them.
This misunderstanding fed their own pride since, being the disciples of the Messiah, they would likely be assured of princely roles in His coming kingdom, which was thought to be earthly in nature. It got to the point where they argued about who would be first in that kingdom.
So Jesus tackled their pride head-on, saying the last shall be first and first last. And that we must become a diakonos, a servant to others. This is where we get the English word “deacon” from. We must humble ourselves, He said, bringing a young child to their midst as an object lesson, and become like a little child.
A little child recognizes his helplessness. He relies and trusts completely on his parents for his daily sustenance and safety and comfort. A child is totally dependent, and his attitudes and behaviors are indicative of this hopelessness in and of himself. Jesus says we must be converted (changed) and become like a small child. This means recognizing that nothing we can do can bring us into a right relationship with God. We cannot convert ourselves, which is why Jesus uses the passive tense here. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that changes us, rather than anything that we can do (see Psalm 80:19; 85:4; 119:37; Titus 2:14; 3:4-7; Romans 5:9; and Ephesians 2:8). This is the key to the kingdom of heaven for each one of us. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and we repent of that sin, recognizing our own helplessness in saving ourselves, and believe as a little child that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that saves us! This is the key to the kingdom of heaven!