March 2021, Vol. 40, No. 3

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Who is the Greatest?

posted on March 5, 2021

[437 words]

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,  and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:1-6).

Jesus had chosen the twelve apostles they had heard Him teach about the kingdom many times. It may have been in their minds that Jesus’ kingdom would be ruled from an earthly throne in Jerusalem. Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection they ask: “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They had the ideal that Jesus would be on earth as king.  Jesus’ kingdom is spiritual not like the worldly kingdoms (John18:36). So we see them asking: “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus had not elevated one of the apostles over the others. This was common among men who were leaders, and it is still so today. The mother of John and James came to Jesus requesting: “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left” (Matthew 20:21). Yet Jesus did not promote one of the apostles over others.

Some people today want to have a place of honor. Jesus tells them, and us, to be converted and become like children. The way to be great in the kingdom is to be humble. To be great is to trust Christ completely. Christ is the Master of all of His followers, all of us are brothers (Matthew 18:1-10).  We are to be humble and obey. This means that we do not try to be master over others. It means that we will do any work which needs to be done and we are able to it. Taking care of children, even helpless ones, is not to be thought of as ‘below our dignity’. “ This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

Wayne Curry
Via Highland Drive church of Christ
Poplar Bluff, MO

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