At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Matthew 18:1
How do you define great? The disciples are still hoping for an earthly political kingdom, more powerful than that of their beloved David. Not only are they looking forward to this kingdom, as friends of Jesus – the king – they want a high-ranking position. They want to be great in Jesus’s kingdom. So they pose a question about who is the greatest in this kingdom.
As is often the case, Jesus’s response is not the one they wanted to hear. He calls a child to himself and sets the child up as the example of the greatest, saying, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Humility is what makes one great in this kingdom. Jesus modeled this by leaving His holy position on the throne in Heaven and being born as a child, humbly living, teaching, serving, healing, and ultimately dying to save us. THIS is greatness in this kingdom.
Humility is the foundation and backdrop for the ministry of Jesus in the Kingdom of God. Humility to strip ourselves of anything that causes us to sin and separate us from God. Humility to suppress our pride and pain and offer forgiveness when we have been deeply wronged. Humility to surrender control to the only One who really is in control. THIS is greatness in His kingdom.
Greatness is not found in social status, wealth, accomplishments, possessions, or earthly power. It is found in humbly submitting to and serving the One who is the greatest.
Questions: How does your idea of “great” differ from what Jesus is teaching? How can we make a mindset shift about what true greatness looks like?
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