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Matthew
  
4. PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
(MATTHEW 18:1-35) (The Fourth Collection of the Words of Christ)

a) The Disciples’ Pride and the Children’s Humility
(Matthew 18:1-14)
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them3and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.4Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew19:14, Mark9:33-37, Luke9:46-48)


Due to its great importance in the church the evangelist Matthew put this event as an introduction to the fourth speech of Jesus Christ. “Who is the greatest in the church?” This question is still being discussed today by elders and bishops. The devil, by means of his cunning and deceit, endeavors to spread the spirit of his own sin among the leaders in the kingdom of God. They fall into temptation, leaving love and humility, and quarrels among them begin, and the sheep are scattered.
The occasion of this temptation between pride and humility was an increasing contest among the disciples for prominence. They went about, saying among themselves, (for they were ashamed at first to ask Jesus), “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” They did not mean, “who” by character, that they might know what graces and duties to excel in, but “who” by name. They had learned much and preached much about the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of the Messiah, and His church in this world. But as yet they were far from the spiritual reality of it. They dreamt of a temporal kingdom and the external pomp and power of it. Christ had recently foretold His sufferings and the glory that should follow, after he would rise again. From His prophecy they expected His kingdom would begin on earth. Now they thought it was time to strive for their places in it. It would be good, in such cases, to speak early!
The disciples strove to see who would receive prominent positions. Peter was always the chief speaker and already had the keys of heaven given him. He expected to be the ruling President, thus being the greatest. Judas had the bag and therefore expected to be finance minister, which he hoped would mark him as the most powerful. John was the beloved disciple, the favorite of the future King, and therefore hoped to be the greatest. Andrew was the first to be called, so why should he not be preferred above the others?
Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, and are not willing to involve themselves in hard work and difficulties. They look so much at the crown, that they forget the yoke and the cross. So did the disciples here, when they asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Sin usually appears in man’s longing for honor, dominion, wealth, and beauty. We are all tempted by Satan’s sin – pride. To overcome this spiritual disease, Christ set a little child in the midst of the men. He asked them to follow the example of this child’s innocence that they might recognize that humility and confidence in the Father is opposed to Satan’s purpose. As a child is immature, needy and weak in nature, so we are also. Just as a child resorts to his father’s protection and care for all concerns and sufferings, we should resort to God in the same way. If we will not enter into the heavenly adoption legally prepared for us by Christ, we shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus endeavors to lead you to rely fully upon His Father’s fatherhood. Entrust your life to the greatness of His love, that you may become a child in His wonderful family. The privilege of this adoption is realized through humility and meekness. Jesus blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
When the disciples asked who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Christ provoked them to think about what they were asking. They were ambitious of being the “greatest” themselves. Christ tells them that unless they change their thinking, they would never enter into it.

Prayer
O Holy One, we glorify You because Your Son Jesus lived gentle and lowly in heart, and He wants to change us into His image. Deliver us from temptation that we may never become proud or seek to display ourselves, but serve in secret with faithfulness, for our names are written in the Book of Life. Forgive us for holding onto pride, and anoint us with Your gentle and merciful Spirit.
Question
Why is pride considered the greatest danger threatening the church?
PART 1
THE PRELIMINARY PERIOD IN THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
(MATTHEW 1:1 – 4:25)
PART 2
CHRIST TEACHES AND MINISTERS IN GALILEE
(MATTHEW 5:1 – 11:1)
PART 3
THE UNBELIEVING JEWS AND THEIR ENMITY TO JESUS
(MATTHEW 11:2-18:35)
PART 4
JESUS’ MINISTRY IN THE JORDAN VALLEY DURING HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 19:1 – 20:34)
PART 5
JESUS’ LAST MINISTRIES IN JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 21:1 – 25:46)
PART 6
CHRIST’S SUFFEINGS AND DEATH
(MATTHEW 26:1-27:66)
PART 7
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(MATTHEW 28:1-20)