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Childlikeness - the requirement for kingdom greatness.

Rev. Charles Oppong-Poku | June 12, 2023 | Matthew 18:1-7


And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 18:3


Today’s passage begins with the disciples asking Jesus about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus could have responded in a lot of ways. Rather than calling them selfish, proud, slow learners, or worse; rather than saying, the greatest is the one who remembers and does what they have been told already, Jesus tries to teach them using a visual aid to assist their memory by the paradigm of childlikeness to illustrate the “entrance requirement” for the kingdom and its greatness. I conjecture that when Jesus placed a child in their midst, the disciples had no clue what he was doing. Jesus was shifting the emphasis from greatness to the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus says that to enter the kingdom of Heaven, one must be converted and must become a little child. The word “converted” means “to turn in the opposite direction.” What are some typical characteristics of children?

Children are particularly teachable, and Jesus is teaching us to be as teachable as children to participate in God’s kingdom by learning God’s ways and living accordingly. While Jesus wants us to be teachable, He also wants us to have a trusting spirit because the child instinctively trusts his parents and believes that his needs will be met. No creature on earth, as far as I know, is more dependent on others for its survival for a longer time than human children. Entering the kingdom of God like a child means recognizing our dependence on God and learning to trust in and depend on the Heavenly Father who can be relied on as no human parent can be.

Entering the Kingdom of God as a child means we’re teachable, we recognize our dependence on God, and it requires humility. Jesus further told the disciples: Whoever humbles himself as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. In other words, whoever does not force his claims upon others and whoever serves others in trusting obedience to the Father can enter the kingdom. This picture of greatness is what Jesus has been teaching His disciples that we are to learn to serve first. And only by learning to humbly serve others, trusting that God’s ways are for our best, will they be able to co-reign with Him in His kingdom as servant-kings (Matthew 5:3; 5:40-42).


What is your main desire as a citizen of the Kingdom? Have you repented of your pride and self-sufficiency; and have you come to Him as a little child? He warns that, unless a person changes and becomes like a child, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus desires humble, teachable, trusting followers, rather than those who are arrogant, selfish, and trusting in themselves. Learn to be meek and humble before God and His word, be calm within your soul because of the Father's good care for you and be at peace in God's care and power.


Heavenly Father, I pray that you cultivate a spirit of humility within me. Please help me to let go of pride, self-reliance, and the desire to control everything. May I submit to your will, knowing that you are the perfect Father who knows what is best for me? In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!



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