Reader: “Unless you turn from your sins and become like little children,”
Response: “You will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Scripture: Matthew 18:1-14
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
As we have mentioned many times previously, when looking at a passage of Scripture, it is always important to know what comes before and what comes after. What is the larger message the author is getting at? In this case, a little bit earlier Jesus had told his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection. While they understood the death part, but did not tie it to Jesus, it seems the resurrection side of things escaped them all together. Jesus then talked with all the disciples again about his coming death and how it would happen. The disciples had heard Jesus talk about the Kingdom of Heaven on numerous occasions. Perhaps out of jealousy towards Peter, James, and John being closer to Jesus and witnesses to the Transfiguration, the disciples were embroiled in a vigorous discussion about which one of them was the greatest. Three years of traveling with Jesus and they are having this kind of conversation? At least they were embarrassed to admit it (Lk. 9:46-48). Jesus gave them an object lesson and a picture of the heart attitude of a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, that of a humble little child. Think of the sweetness and trust of a four year old. In addition, Jesus gave a very strong warning to anyone who causes one of these trusting ones to stumble. To give indication as to how strongly he meant it, Jesus gave two drastic examples. In his words, it would be better to cut off a hand or gouge out an eye rather cause a child to stumble. He concluded this portion with another story of the lost sheep indicating how great is the Father’s love for his children. One can’t help but notice the great contrast in our societies where the nature of the conversation of the disciples is the staple food of interaction (who’s the greatest). When was the last time you ran into someone, (other than a four year old!), who had a genuinely humble heart toward the Kingdom of Heaven? I once had a pastor tell me to not ever show your weakness, as people will think you are soft. Needless to say, I dismissed that advice! The Apostle Paul gloried in his weakness. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death. Jesus also humbled himself to find a manger as his first cradle. Come to think about it, he did become a little child.
Music: “Angels We Have Heard on High” Robert Shaw Chorale gorgeous
Bonus: “Angels we have Heard on High” The Piano Guys, Unique! Instrumental, (32 fingers, 8 thumbs)
Bonus: “Angels We Have Heard On High” Home Free
Prayer: A Child’s Prayer
Make me, dear Lord, polite and kind to everyone, I pray; and may I ask you how you find Yourself, dear Lord, today? Amen. ―from Eerdman’s Book of Famous Prayers, p.60