Summary: Part 2 of 4 of the series, Secrets of the Kingdom of God, Revealed! With a child Jesus demonstrates who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven! Certainly not what most would expect...
THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM
Read at beginning of service:
Mark 9:33-37 (NIV)
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
Last week we began to take a look at a phenomenal phrase found in the Bible – a phrase that is very significant in the life of the believer and a phrase that is very challenging for one who does not know Christ. The "kingdom of God" is the message of Jesus Christ and as we started with last week – there are secrets about this kingdom that Jesus wants to reveal to those who will hear, to those who will see, and to those who will seek to understand.
One of the biggest secrets about God’s kingdom was revealed last week and that is that the kingdom of God is not something that you can point to and say, "Here it is" , or "There it is" for it is a kingdom that is found wherever God rules in human hearts, and wherever His will is done. It is a kingdom that is very much an internal reality in the life of the believer and is manifested through the church of Christ. We also found that while this is the case in the present, the kingdom of God is also something that is coming – a literal kingdom that will be established in a very real external sense on our planet when Jesus Christ (the KING!) returns in the last days.
So in our previous message we began to gain a sense of "where" this kingdom is. But this merely provides a starting point for our understanding of the kingdom of God. As we continue this series we’ll begin to uncover some of the secrets that describe what this kingdom is all about.
And so today we will begin with a subject that appears to be one of the most important question in the minds of Jesus’ disciples. For they heard Jesus talking about His kingdom – but they wanted to very much be a part of His kingdom and not only that but have an IMPORTANT part of His kingdom – after all they gave up much to follow Jesus!
Matthew very transparently records this question in… Matthew 18:1-6 (NIV)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
One of the things that make children so much fun is their unique way of seeing the world. Their misunderstandings can sometimes tell us more than we want to know. . For example:
At church one morning, my friend Gwen was about to start her 4-year-olds’ Sunday school class when a little boy showed up without any identification. Gwen managed to get his first name, but couldn’t find out his last name. "Brian, what’s your daddy’s name?" she asked. "Daddy," he replied. She tried again, "Brian, what’s your mommy’s name?" "Mommy," he answered. Suddenly she realized exactly how she could get the answer she needed. "Brian, what does your daddy call your mommy?" His face lit up. With a grin and a deep voice, he replied, "Hey, Babe." – (Susan Boatright, Savannah, GA)
My four-year-old granddaughter, Amanda, went to the doctor’s office with a fever. The doctor looked in her ears and said, "Who’s in there? Donald Duck?"She said, "No." He looked in her nose and said, "Who’s in there? Mickey Mouse?"Again she said, "No." He put his stethoscope on her heart and said, "Who’s in there? Barney?"Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my underwear."