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Formations Lesson for March 20: The Greatest in the Kingdom
John Pond, associational missionary, West Chowan Baptist Association
March 07, 2011
3 MIN READ TIME

Formations Lesson for March 20: The Greatest in the Kingdom

Formations Lesson for March 20: The Greatest in the Kingdom
John Pond, associational missionary, West Chowan Baptist Association
March 07, 2011


Focal Passage: Matthew 18:1-7

They were going the wrong way. The disciples had followed
Him from the early days to this present moment.

And now, most likely in Peter’s home with his family around
them, they are concerned with positions of greatness. Previously, Jesus had
affirmed Peter’s confession and even included him personally in paying the
temple tax. Maybe the others were not as agreeable to this apparent turn of
events, thus they needed to know “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of
heaven?” (18:1).

Ignoring the call to self-denial and cross-bearing, they
needed affirmation about their self-defined way.

They truly were going the wrong way.

So Jesus called a young toddler (probably Peter’s young
child or a relative of his) and lovingly placed the child in their midst —
“Except you turn (You’re heading in the wrong direction with your selfish
ambition) and become like children, you otherwise not get into the kingdom of
heaven at all, let alone have big places in it!” (A.T. Robertson). F.F. Bruce
has suggested that Jesus’ “tone at this time is markedly severe, as much as
when He denounces the Pharisaism in the bud He had to deal with.” Pointing to
the little child by His side Jesus stuns the disciples with the reality that
true greatness comes from humbling oneself; i.e., to literally make oneself
low. This statement is a powerful blow to any who would exalt themselves to the
point of imagining that God would be pleased with them for their individual
goodness. Bruce writes that to humble oneself is “the most difficult thing in
the world for saint or for sinner.”

Further, not only must one humble his or herself, but they
must be humble enough to receive others as children. Later the Apostle Paul
will make much of how we must regard that individual who may be the weaker
brother or sister.

He will stress in his letters and actions how we should
treat not only those within the community of faith, but also those outside that
are truly the weaker one (cf. Acts 17:16ff; 1 Cor. 11; Rom. 13, etc.). We must
not be a stumbling stone to anyone.

The story is told of a man who was an alcoholic. One cold
winter evening he snuck out of the house to go to the local pub for drinks with
his buddies. He had not walked too far when he suddenly heard the soft
crunching sound in the deep snow behind him. When he turned around he saw his
five-year old son a few yards behind him. When he asked his son what he was
doing, the small child replied, “I’m trying to walk in your footsteps, Daddy.”
With those words this dad turned around and never drank again.

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