Summary: Jesus uses a child to point to His spiritual kids and the importance of not causing them to stumble. To avoid stumbling we are to guard others and discipline ourselves.
Matthew: King and Kingdom
FCC – March 4, 2012
Text: Matthew 18: 6-10
Introduction: Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 18. This chapter is one of four major sermons of Jesus in Matthew. Matthew 18 has been called by many the “Discipleship Discourse.” In other words, this chapter deals with how believers grow in Christ and relate to one another in the Body of Christ. Discipleship is often seen as an individual exercise lived out only in rigorous private disciplines. That may indeed be a part of becoming a disciple, but individual faith must grow in relationship to other believers.
Remember last week we were in the first five verses in chapter 18 and asked the question, “Who’s the Greatest?” On the heels of Jesus declaring that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer; He must die and rise again; the disciples argued about greatness in the Kingdom. They wanted to know who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus shocked His listeners by giving an object lesson on greatness with a small child. He picked a child out of the crowd to talk about greatness. Normally adults ignored children and followed the example of other adults. Jesus taught His disciples to follow the example of a child.
We learned that “Greatness in the Kingdom” requires:
• Conversion - I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
• Humility - Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
• Hospitality - And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
John Walvoord writes, “Jesus, in effect, was saying that they were asking the wrong question. They should have been asking, How can I best serve the king? Rather than, How can I best serve myself? The child in the arms of Jesus was a graphic illustration of loving trust, immediate obedience in coming to the arms of Christ, and in seeking only the position of being loved. True greatness involved taking an attitude of unpretentious humility instead of seeking a position of power. These were great lessons for the disciples to learn.”
That brings us to verse 6 and a very difficult and important passage. Jesus points to a child to remind how we are to relate to one another as believers. Look at verse 6: If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble…We often pull the verses we are about to read out of context and say that if any one harms a child they should be drowned in the deepest sea. I’m not saying that’s not true…I’m just saying that Jesus is using a child to make a broader application. Look closer again at verse 6: If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble. So Jesus is concerned about any believer stumbling and uses difficult language to get our attention. Let’s get started.