Matthew 18:1-3 Greatness In The Kingdom Of God

by | Nov 17, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. The World’s Path To Greatness

A. The Disciples

1. Peter, James & John had just seen Jesus transfigured in glory
2. Jesus had just told the 12 about his coming betrayal and death (Matt. 17:22, 23)
3. In spite of what they had recently seen & heard, they quickly drifted back to self
4. As they traveled back to Capernaum, the disciples began to argue about who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 9:34)
5. Jesus asked them about their discussions, but they kept silent, for they were ashamed to answer b/c of their self-centeredness
6. Finally they ask Jesus to settle the argument (Matthew 18:1)
7. The disciples often argued about who among them would be the greatest
8. The mother of James & John even asked that her sons might sit at the right & left hand of Jesus in His coming kingdom (Matthew 20:20-24)
9. They asked Jesus about who is the greatest in the kingdom
10. The best answer, had they considered it, was that Jesus was the greatest
11. What were their thoughts regarding why they might deserve special placement?

a. Who was called first to follow Him? Would he be the greatest?
b. Inner Three: Peter, James, John- would they receive special placement?
They had seen & heard things the others hadn’t
c. Peter had walked on water and confessed Jesus as the Christ
d. What was the basis for their thinking?
e. What had they actually done that would cause them to believe that in the Kingdom of Heaven, they would be exalted over their peers?

B. Modern Humanity

1. All people have the tendency to do their own thing; be the center of their world
2. Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way…
3. Ephesians 2:1-4 (speaks of all of humanity seeking to satisfy self)
4. Self gratification, self promotion, self sufficiency is deeply ingrained in us
5. We compare ourselves w/others, & we develop a sense of our own importance

II. The True Path To Greatness

A. Regarding Entrance Into God’s Kingdom V. 3

1. The disciples’ failure revolved around their mistaken thoughts of self importance, self-sufficiency, and self promotion
2. Jesus taught them that unless they were absolutely changed re. that, that they would never even enter God’s kingdom
3. “…unless you are converted and become as little children

a. Converted- Physically, to turn around
b. Metaphorically, to change your conduct, i.e. to change one’s mind
c. Passive tense- speaks of not what you do, but of what happens to you
“The boy was hit by the ball,” the boy receives the action.
Unless you are converted by God, you can’t be changed in this manner
d. Subjunctive mood- speaks of something that may or may not happen
“…unless you make up your mind to allow God to do this…”

4. Happens in the heart-
Acts 7:39b “And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt”
Being converted, being changed, being turned, is a matter of one’s heart/will.
5. Paraphrase-turn your heart away from self-importance & self sufficiency, and in this regard, become childlike in your thinking
6. Our sentence so far… “unless you are turned around, unless there is a change in your mind and life, that change coming from without, not within…that change resulting in you being like a child…then…”
7. “…you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Never, certainly not, not at all, in no case
8. Self sufficiency, self promotion, self importance keep people out of Heaven
9. Turn to Luke 12:13-21 This man thought he was self sufficient; he was wrong

B. What Is Child Likeness?

1. V. 10- Little ones- mikros {mik-ros’}

a. Regarding size: small in stature
b. Regarding age: less by birth, younger (hence, less powerful)
c. Regarding position: low in rank or influence
d. Matt. 13:32 (mustard seed)…which indeed is the least of all the seeds…
e. Luke 12:32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
f. Hebrews 8:11 “…for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them…”
g. Childlikeness is the opposite of being self promoting & self sufficient
f. To be childlike would probably mean that you are looked upon as insignificant, unimportant, the least among your peers
h. Childlikeness isn’t that you think immaturely, foolishly, naively
i. Childlike is how you may be thought of because self promotion and self sufficiency isn’t important to you.
j. Turn to Matthew 11:25-27

i. The so called wise couldn’t even perceive the Kingdom
ii. Those like children could see the truth of God’s kingdom

2. How To Be Like A Child V. 4

a. Humble yourself- to make low, to bring into a humble condition, to assign a lower rank or place to, bring down one’s pride, to have a modest opinion of one’s self, to behave in an unassuming manner, devoid of all haughtiness
b. Voice – Active: The active voice represents the subject as the doer of the action. e.g., “The boy hit the ball,” the boy performs the action.

3. Notice the sequence: the true path to greatness…

a. V. 4- “Humble yourself”: active voice: the part that we do
b. V. 3- “…you are converted…”: passive voice: what God does in you

4. Philippians 2:1-4
5. Have you entered into the Kingdom of God?
6. If yes, then seek to have the same heart for others as God has had for you