Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?
Matthew 18 begins with a question At
that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of
Apparently the disciples of Jesus, Peter, James, John,
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James
and Judas the brothers of Jesus, Simon called Zelotes
and Judas Iscariot, were
debating who was closest to the Master.
All of them believed that Jesus was the Messiah, long
awaited for. Through him they exercised great
authority and celebrity status among the people. They
healed the sick and the lame, the blind and the deaf,
and cast out many evil spirits.
Jesus gave them power against
unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all
manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,
cast out devils:
Such power is dangerous in the hands of mortal men
without the guidance of one like Jesus Christ. An
incident recorded in the 9th chapter of Luke
demonstrates the rashness of man with the power of the
holy spirit. When it was time for Jesus to be
"received up", He set his course for
Jerusalem. He sent messengers before him to make
things ready. The messengers went to a village in
Samaria and the Samaritans did not welcome him.
When James and John, the sons of Zebedee, saw this,
they were angered at the people and said to Jesus "Lord,
wilt thou that we command fire to come down from
heaven, and consume them"
If not for the immediate intervention of Jesus, they
would have destroyed an entire village. Such was the
power that they possessed.
These were the same two who requested to sit at Jesus'
left and right side when he established the kingdom of
We can see from the gospels that the disciples of
Jesus were very ordinary men, with mortal weaknesses.
Their lives with Jesus was very exciting and
exhilarating. They traveled with him throughout the
land and became the center of attention.
The crowds treated them with great respect and viewed
them as men of importance, because of their
association with the new teacher.
They began to feel a sense of importance and pride.
Being filled with their own "importance"
they debated their positions in the kingdom of God,
when Jesus would proclaim himself, to the people, as
the long awaited Messiah.
They asked "Who will be greatest among us when
you establish the kingdom of God here on the
Jesus answered by calling a child out of the crowd to
him and setting the child on his knee, in the midst of
his disciples, said I tell you
the truth, unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is
the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
He then spoke of humility and trust that a child
possesses and the need of appreciating others and not
violating the trust of a humbler one.
To be truly great in the kingdom of God one must live
life with childlike trust, unquestioning love, and
utter confidence in God. We must regain the simplicity
of those early years as a child which were free from
the selfish speculation found in our adult life.
We are only truly converted to God, when, having gone
forth to meet the stress and storms of every day life,
we emerge from the conflict with a trust in God as
strong as the trust we had in our parents when we we
To win this battle we must have unswering loyalty to
Christ and uncompromising obedience to his precepts.
Where the love of Christ is not fully present in our
lives, there is always the danger of offense by word
or deed or example.
Jesus warns his own disciples Woe
to the world because of the things that cause people
to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man
through whom they come!
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off
and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life
maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet
and be thrown into eternal fire.
And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and
throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with
one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the
fire of hell.
"See that you do not look down on one of these
little ones. For I tell you that their angels in
heaven always see the face of my Father in