In this passage of Scripture there are a number of crucial lessons for us to ponder on and yes even learn.
The disciples are arguing amongst themselves, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
They were not prepared for what the Lord was about to do, although I am sure that it did not surprise them, they had known the Lord Jesus long enough to understand what He was about- well to a point.
They were about to get a lesson on humility- and much more.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Like all households, and all organisations there is a pecking order, someone wants to be at the top, someone has to be in charge, others are there to follow- This is the worldly order of things and it has it good and bad points- Like that old story book Animal Farm- ‘all animals are equal, some more equal than others!’.
A proclamation by the pigs who control the government in the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell. The sentence is a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
The disciples were not immune to the frailty of humanity.
‘True humility means knowing yourself, and being yourself-your best self- to the Glory of God’ W Wiersbe p64
It means avoiding two extremes:
1. Thinking less of yourself than you ought.
2. Or thinking more of yourself than you ought.
A small child trusts and is dependant. It is naïve and in need of great protection.
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
I believe that His meaning here is threefold,
i. Our attitude toward little children and
ii. our personal attitude towards faith
iii. And our attitude towards the faithful.
Each with a solemn warning and a solemn responsibility!
The Lord Jesus called his follower to have childlike faith one that would trust completely in the Lord their God.
The Lord Jesus called His disciple to have a good attitude and responsible attitude to all who would come to faith.
Here is a challenge to every believer:-
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
We all have a duty of care!
Being a parent, being a responsible adult is a solemn responsibility, a duty and a privilege one that God holds dear and want us to hold dear to our hearts.
The sad fact of life is that humanity will and does fall down in this charge- 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
God gives to each one of us a free will to follow Him and His principles; OR to reject- Along with this He makes us responsible for our own actions, thus this stern warning- When I see all the atrocities in this world I am overwhelmed, the only thing that keeps me going is that in God’s eternal plan there is a time of reckoning.
Hebrews 9:27.Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
And to be honest with you, I thank God that I am not the judge.
The old age question: ‘AM I my brother’s keeper’ comes to mind.
In the Gospel we see a high regard for human dignity- for mankind is the object of God’s love, compassion and forgiveness.
I would rather preach one sermon on the love and Grace of God than 100 on God’s wrath and judgement.
Having said this we should not kid ourselves, as the apostle Paul puts it to the Galatians:
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7
Sin has entered the world- and humanity is fragile- the Lord Jesus can heal that which ails humanity. But many will not receive they will reject.
I believe that too many people look at what they believe to be the negative of the Gospel and Christianity and not the positive.
If we examine the Word of God there is so much about the positive that we should major on.
For example who wouldn’t want:- Love, Joy, Peace, Forgiveness? In their lives.
Who wouldn’t want fulfilment in life and purpose?
Who wouldn’t want true humility and strength?
The Lord Jesus wasn’t finished with His disciples there is more for He underlines what he is saying with another parable: Verses 12-14
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
This is perhaps one of the simplest of parables. This is important; too often people make things so complicated.
It teaches us a number of vital facts.
The Lord Jesus uses an illustration that all would be familiar with.
A shepherd has lost one of 100 sheep.
The shepherd leaves the 99, under the care of another shepherd presumable. To search for the one lost sheep.
The purpose of the parable is to outline the Love of God.
1. The Love of God is an individual love. Yes there were another 99 but that one was just as important as the rest.
2. The Love of God is a patient love.- the sheep might be foolish but the shepherd would still risk his life to save it. God is patient with each one of us.
3. The Love of God is seeking love. The shepherd could have waited for the sheep to come home, unlikely though- he was not content to do so- there was a sense of urgency.
4. The Love of God is rejoicing love, no recriminations, just forgiveness and joy when the sheep is brought back into the fold.
5. The Love of God is protecting love. T is his love that seeks and saves.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.