Summary: Grow up and be like a child. Look up always to the Father for security and help. Acknowledge His greatness and our need of Him. Never grow beyond our dependence on God, no matter how successful we become.
Jesus says we are to receive the Kingdom of God like a little child.
He was saying this to reprimand the disciples. He was correcting their wrong thinking. The disciples thought that power and authority would be the things that mattered most in God’s kingdom. They want a special status. They feel that they are better than others.
That is how the world thinks - only those who are capable and intelligent will be honoured.
But Jesus tells them that just the opposite is true - that those who will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven – won’t be the people who are so full of themselves. They won’t be the people who feel that they are good, that they are better than others.
Instead, they will be like children – Jesus says, “…whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:4)
We are told to be like a child. Why? Children show certain characteristics that the disciples must learn from.
(1) Children look up to the adults around them, especially parents. They don’t want to be left alone. They feel secure when with parents are around.
(2) Children openly tell you what they need. They will not hide. They are not shy to tell you they needed help.
There are the two attitudes that we need to cultivate:
(1) ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S GREATNESS
The disciples want to know who is the greatest. They wanted to be the special ones, the highly honoured ones in the kingdom of heaven. They were thinking about themselves.
A child does not think about his own greatness. He knows he needs his parents. In fact, left alone, the child cries and feels very insecure. He does not want to be left alone. They want adults to be around and almost all the time, not just any adults but their parents.
Why? They need someone whom they can trust, to be there for them, because they know they are not in control. They know they are not capable of doing things on their own. Someone needs to protect them, someone needs to help them. They are always looking up to someone else – one who is wiser, and bigger, and stronger than they are.
Here’s the point - in our relationship with God, we adults are in the same position as our children, except that we don’t know it. We sometimes behave as if we are running our lives, and that we are in control. We feel capable, and sometimes to such an extent that we feel we don’t really need God.
We need to know, that we are not in control. And like a child, to be always looking up to someone for security and for help.
We have to remind ourselves that we cannot handle life with our own wisdom or capabilities. We have no absolute control over our life.
We look at the news everyday. We see all kinds of forces - natural, social, political or economic forces at work around us – every day, over which we have little or no influence at all.
But we know we have someone who is wiser, bigger and stronger than we are.
The child knows that. The child often looks around to see if his parents are around. If they are not, they’ll start to cry, because they feel insecure.
Today, like a child, we must humbly acknowledge that there is this ‘Adult’ in our life – our heavenly Father. He is that someone who is bigger and stronger, that someone we can look up to. We are not in control but He is.
Jesus wants the disciples to look away from themselves – from seeing how great they are, and be like a child - to see how great the Father is. He is the King in the kingdom of heaven, and we are to look up to Him.
This perspective is critical, if we want to stay strong in a chaotic world like ours today. Our God is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He will accomplish His purposes on earth and no one can thwart His plans.
When Pilate was questioning Jesus in John 19:9-11
“9 and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" 11Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
In other words, Jesus is saying, "Pilate, the power you are exercising right now, at this very moment, doesn’t come from the Roman Empire. It doesn’t come from the legions of soldiers standing at your command. It doesn’t come from your throne, or your title, or your wealth, or your ancestry. Whether you realize it or not, your power comes from the one true God, who can take it back whenever he pleases."