Matthew 18:1-6

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6

It is such a human question to ask: Who is the greatest? From sports to politics to business to the arts, there is always an argument to be made about who is GOAT, the greatest of all time. It is also a foolish question. There are so many variables in life that it is impossible to compare one person to another across the decades of change. Yet it fascinates us. Why?

The string of stories that open the Bible culminate in the 11th chapter of Genesis. After the brazen refusal to follow one simple rule, falling prey to the temptation to “be like God”, in the 2nd chapter of Genesis, the story continues with further alienation from God. Finally, in one more attempt to storm the heavens, the infrastructure improvement project of Babel results in the destruction of human community. So much for seeking to be the GOAT.

We want to believe that there is really something like being the “greatest” because it justifies our attempts to create our own reality, to be our own saviors, to create our own ladders to climb and mountains to conquer. We want to believe it really matters to reach the top, to be King of the Hill. Why? Because we still believe Babel was a worthy pursuit.

Enter Jesus who deflates our balloons. He picks up a child and holds her before his arguing disciples. Let this child be your model, your hero, your goal. Notice her humility, her vulnerability. She holds no confidence that she can do life on her own. That she can make up her own rules. That she can lord it over anyone else. She has no desire to be the greatest of all time in anything. Look at her trust. Look at her fears. Let her be your example.

How is this good for children?” Listening Jesus means that this question, so seldom asked until it is too late, is perhaps the best question of all.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, our pride gets in the way. We can’t imagine surrender other than defeat. We can’t imagine victory that requires vulnerability. We are as challenged today by the image of you holding a child before us as your disciples were back then. Teach us the difference between child-like and childish. Teach us anew what is most important in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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One Response to “Matthew 18:1-6”

  1. Sharon Boyd Says:

    Another good reminder. Thank you and may God continue to bless you as you continue to bless us.

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