Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Whoever Becomes Simple Again
18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
6-7 “But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.
-Matthew 18:1-7 The Message
Rank in the Kingdom
18 Verse 1: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Verse 1 study: In the book of Mark, we learn that Jesus asked the disciples about the conversation they had earlier between them.
Mark 9:33-34: 33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them: “What were you discussing on the way?”34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
Verse 2: And He called a child to Himself and set him among them,
Verse 3: and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 4: So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Verses 1-4 studies: While the disciples argue over who would be the greatest, Jesus used a child to get to the point. He was teaching his self-centered disciples not to be childish, arguing over petty issues, be more childlike with humble and sincere hearts. Are you childlike or childish?
Verses 3-4 studies: The disciples had become preoccupied with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom that lost their sight and divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage. It is easy to get lost in completing promotions inside the church while losing our eternal focus. It is difficult to identify with “children” weak and dependent people with no status or influence.
Verse 5: And whoever receives one such child in My name, receives Me; Verse 6: but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Verse 6 study: Children are trusting by nature. They trust adults, and through that, they trust their capacity to trust God grows. God holds those adults who influence young children accountable for how they affect little ones’ ability to trust. Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from the faith will receive severe punishment.
Verse 7: “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom the stumbling block comes!
Verse 7 study: Jesus warned the disciples about two ways they can cause little ones to sin: tempting them and neglecting or demeaning them. We will study more of this tomorrow and Thursday. As leaders, we help young people new believers avoid anything or anyone that could cause them to stumble in their faith and lead them to sin. We shouldn’t take the spiritual education and protection of the young in age and in the faith lightly.