Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 18:3
My three-year-old granddaughter, wearing an ankle-length apron tied around her tiny frame, busily washed my measuring cups and spoons along with her toy dishes. She carefully placed them in her mini-version of my drain rack, which had been placed on a pullout shelf about two feet from the floor. She clearly was doing her best to imitate my homemaking skills! This wasn’t the only place she worked faithfully beside me. She carried a gallon pail of grain to the calves while I carried a much larger one. When I sat down at my desk to do paper work, I would discover her intently “writing letters” or pasting cutout pictures on scraps of paper. The job didn’t really matter, as long as she was near me. She never once asked me about being paid or when she could be the boss!
What an illustration of Jesus’ words in today’s focus verse! To a great extent, children are free of ambition and pride. Characteristically trusting and teachable, they love to spend time with and mimic those they love. Jesus wants His followers of every age to model the same characteristics — to love to spend time with Him, and to have their hearts and minds set on following His example rather than searching for position or planning a life around their own aspirations.
Some years ago, a lady more than eighty years of age met Jesus and gave her heart to Him. I observed in her the same eagerness to follow Jesus in the smallest matters that my granddaughter had in modeling after me. This woman’s humble attitude and simple faith was evidence of her growth in the Lord during the last fourteen years of her life. Although she was an elderly woman, she had that childlike faith.
It is not surprising that Jesus used a simple, but perfect illustration — a little child — to teach a lesson that will help each of us make Heaven.
Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, heard the voice of God, and saw Jesus heal the demoniac son after the other disciples’ failure to do so. In today’s text, they were trying to absorb Christ’s words regarding His approaching death and resurrection.
Matthew was the only Gospel writer to record the miracle of Christ providing a way to pay the tribute tax for himself and Peter (Matthew 17:24-27). Jesus, the King of Glory, had no money to pay the tax. This is the only recorded miracle Jesus performed to meet His own needs, and the only miracle using money.
After providing for the material need of the tax, Jesus went on to teach His disciples the principles for unity among His followers. They were wondering which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus taught them how to successfully enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It would not be difficult if each one had the attitude of an obedient child: dependent upon the Father, possessing an attitude of trust, and desirous of pleasing Him with no thought of position.
Matthew used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” where the other Gospel writers used “kingdom of God.” This was probably because Matthew was writing mainly for Jewish readers, who refrained from using the sacred word God too frequently.
Christ’s instruction in chapter 18, verses 15-18 regarded conflict resolution with the church. His words were not intended to give license for an attack on those who have offended, but rather to provide the means of reconciliation so believers can live in harmony. The words bind and loose in verse 18 refer to the discipline and authority of the church. Believers are to bring problems between brethren to the church, and the leaders seek God’s guidance regarding the manner in which the conflict should be resolved.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. Instructions of the King in light of His opposition
B. Instructions in light of His opposition
1. Instruction concerning His death and resurrection (17:22-23)
2. Instruction concerning privilege and liberty (17:24-27)
3. Instruction concerning humility (18:1-5)
4. Instruction concerning stumbling (18:6-14)
5. Instruction concerning discipline (18:15-20)
It is more important to enter God’s Kingdom than to worry about one’s position there.