The Greatest in the Kingdom
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.” Matthew 18:1-6 NLT
“After they [Jesus and the disciples] arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.” Mark 9:33-34 NLT (Items in brackets from me.)
My Thoughts: We learn in these verses in the book of Mark that Jesus knew there had been a discussion among the disciples about who was the greatest of them. This is so typical of man/woman (i.e. us) isn’t it? Our own society teaches us we must achieve even if that means it comes at the expense of someone else.
In a recent blog Jesus warned the disciples that he would be killed soon, and it would be someone he loved who would betray him. (Matthew 17:22-23)
However, rather than ask questions, or try to determine what they could do to protect Jesus, they are arguing amongst themselves about which of them is greater! In many ways this cold-hearted selfishness is so surreal to me, but I also know that I can be just as capable of being self-focused and miss the main thing!
Jesus used the example of a child to help his self-focused disciples understand the main point: we are not to be childish like the disciples, but childlike with humble and sincere hearts.
Eek! I am immediately being challenged to ask myself the same compelling question Jesus asked his disciples:
Am I in the habit of being childlike or childish?
When I typed that question, I expelled a heavy sigh because my emotions have been a cesspool these last few months. Yes, I’m saying that a lot of things I have been feeling have stunk to high heaven. I’ve spent a lot of hours praying through my Bible and with some of my favorite Bible scholars to walk through every stinking thing because I needed to clarify some things, and deal with some shearing pain. When our hearts start breaking, our hearts and thoughts start stinking; it happens.
However, while I needed to understand the entire situation about what was happening inside of me, it never gave me the right to say or do things in retaliation, or in childish behavior to either make a point or to further my own personal agenda. There has been an unholy battle waging inside of me for a position of authority and answers. I’ve had to confess that for what it is (sin); and ask my Jesus for His forgiveness and for His direction. I couldn’t get it from anyone else because no one else had the right answers, nor can anyone else comfort or restore my broken heart.
I thank my God everyday for the mercy of His forgiveness and restoration, but especially during the difficult times.
“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name.” Psalm 23:3 NLT
I knew the stakes were high because of the dangers of making the wrong move in my pain or speaking words from my heart in an unsafe place. Jesus clearly said:
“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.” Matthew 18:6 NLT
What could be worse than harming a childlike person who has trust in Jesus? That would be intentionally or carelessly harming a person who doesn’t yet know Jesus.
“I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:33b
I do have a personal relationship with Jesus therefore, I can tell you that while He cares about my pain, He expects me to act like a follower of Jesus! That includes whether the other person deserves it or not, but especially if they have not yet found their way to Jesus!
So. I’ve picked myself up out of the cesspool. I’ve stopped acting like I’m in authority. I humbled my heart completely before my Jesus and confessed everything, including my anger with Him. He knew all about it anyway, I might as well have gotten it off my chest! Jesus took it all from me the moment He died on the cross for me and I surrendered my heart to Him. Kneeling before Him, Jesus washed the pit of hell off my body and put my name tag right back on my heart where it belonged. It didn’t say that I was in authority or in charge, but it boldly did say:
Daughter of the Most-High King
Closing Prayer: Father God, you bless my life every day with Your love and Your mercy, and I am so grateful. Thank You for allowing me to keep You close as my pain is healing and as I wait on You for Your will. Thank You for already establishing that my calling still has value even when I couldn’t find value in myself. Father may I bless You this day, and sometimes moment by moment, as I walk this road to Your glory. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.