A reflection on Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
In response to the disciples question ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Jesus as usual flips everything upside down and inside out. He takes a child and tells the disciples that unless that ‘turn and become like children’… they ‘will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Almost: Forget about whose the greatest! With attitudes like that you won’t even enter! In fact, let me tell you about greatness in the upside down, inside out kingdom – humility.
Humble yourself like this child! That is, realise your need, your lack, your dependence and forget your pride, knowledge and seeming control and power and realise as children that you are totally dependent, totally needy, and totally lost without God. God gives grace to the humble but He opposes the proud. Humble yourself or be opposed!
We live in a world that is opposite and upside down to this. We are taught to admire the successful and self-willed person, that we can do anything through our own power and determination. The truth of the Scriptures though is that we are weak, that we are in great need, that we have hearts, minds, and wills set against God and His reign over us.
Jesus teaches the disciples here what we all need to learn, and re-learn and then learn again… Humility. To realise that we need God. We are totally dependent upon Him. He holds our lives in His hands. Every breath we breathe is because He allows it and sustains us. And this incredibly powerful God sent His Son in loving mercy so that as children through faith in Jesus we can today be called children of God. Wow!