Summary: Greatness and Growth in the Kingdom (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Matthew chapter 18 verses 1-9.


Unanswered questions:

1. How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest,

But always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?

2. Do one legged ducks swim in circles?

3. If a jogger runs a the speed of sound can he still hear his walkman?

4. If the cops arrest a mime,

Do they have to tell him he has the right to remain silent?

5. What do sheep count when they can't sleep?

6. Why do bars advertise live bands?

7. Why is there only ONE Monopolies Commission?

8. What's another word for thesaurus?

9. Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

10. Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

11. My favourite:

12. If a man speaks and their is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?

Chapter eighteen begins the fourth main teaching section of Matthew's gospel:

• Mathew divides his gospel into six blocks of teaching;

• They are arranged in subject matter not chronologically.

• The teaching that is contained in this section;

• Are in response to four questions that are put to Jesus,

• The first question is asked by the disciples together (chapter 18 verses 1-14),

• 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'.

• The second question is by Peter (chapter 18 verses 15-35),

• 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother?

• The third question is by the Pharisees(chapter 19 verses 1-12),

• 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?'

• And the fourth question by a rich young man (chapter 19 verses 16-30),

• 'What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?’


• A vicar was walking along the road;

• When a lady stopped him and this question.

• "Vicar" she asked

• "What do you think about cremation?"

• Without hesitation the vicar replied:

• "You know the scriptural principle don't you?"

• "No" the lady replied

• "You bury treasure but you burn rubbish".

• Then the vicar asked, "But why do you ask?"

• She replied: "Because we cremated my mother last week!"

• The lesson in the story is a simple one:

• It always pays to find out why the question is being asked.

The motives that lay behind each of these four questions is very revealing:

• Tonight we are dealing with the first question:

• The twelve disciples asked: 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'

• The motive that lay behind the question is self-promotion.

• The disciples want to be honoured above each other!

• Pride was an undetected cancer that if left undealt with;

• Will slowly spread and destroy those who it inhabits.

Quote C.S. Lewis:

• In his classic book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis has a chapter called,

• ‘The Greatest Sin in the World.’

• With his characteristic insight and clarity,

• Lewis demonstrates that pride is that ‘greatest sin.’

• He writes this incredible chapter that defines the right kind of pride

• (‘I’m proud of my son.’)

• And the wrong kind of pride

• (‘I have to be the best. I have to be number one.’).

• And after discussing all the subtle nuances and ins and outs of pride,

• Lewis ends the chapter by stating,

• ‘If you have read this and you’re convinced that this does not apply to you,

• Then it certainly does apply to you.’ Whoa!”

Now if you have read the gospels you will know that this is not a one-off situation;

• The disciples appear to have been a preoccupation with it.

• Three quick examples:

(a). Mark chapter 9 verse 33:

• The disciples were walking to Capernaum and constantly arguing all the way home;

• When they arrived at the house in Capernaum.

• Jesus asked them a simple question:

• 'What were you arguing about on the road?'

• Their response was very telling;

• “But they kept quiet because… they had argued about who was the greatest”

• Ill: Like little children caught red handed doing something wrong.

• The disciples of Jesus are embarrassed into silence by their selfish attitudes.

(b). Luke chapter 9 verse 46:

• Jesus had just told the disciples about his fast approaching death.

• He clearly warns them:

• “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you:

• The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

• Luke pitifully adds,

• '... they did not understand what this meant' (verses 44-45).

• Jesus has just bared his heart to them,

• Yet in their ignorance they are again more interested in only themselves.

• Once again they turn their attention to which of them was the greatest.

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