Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 120 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 18 today and our focus is on The Upside Down Kingdom of Jesus and the Way of Greatness. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Matthew 18 is another one of those Bible chapters with several truths that could make an entire podcast. We could talk for more than one episode about church discipline, or about Jesus’ advice on restoring relationships. We could talk about the dangers of leading children into sin, or the possibility of guardian angels, as one of the great proof texts on guardian angels is in this chapter. We could talk about the importance of leaving 99 found people to pursue the one lost person (for Jesus wasn’t literally talking about sheep, right?) And, as we did last year when we covered this passage, we could emphasize how utterly necessary it is for us to forgive people when they offend or wound us. All would make great topics for discussion, and I hope you will listen well to Jesus’ teaching on each of those areas. Our focus today, however is going to be on greatness – but probably not in the way that you think! In His teachings, Jesus gives at least two keys to greatness – two attitudes and behaviors we must adopt if we would be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven. One of those keys to greatness is serving, as we also talked about on episode #20 of the Bible Reading Podcast, over a year ago. Today’s passage is going to give us another crucial key to greatness in God’s Kingdom. Let’s read our passage
Here’s our verse of the day:
4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:5
Unless you are quite familiar with this passage, I would imagine that humility like a child would not be highest on your list of things that make a person great- but it certainly is at the top of Jesus’ list. Notice how deliberately He sets up this teaching. First, He asks a provocative question: Hey guys, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Then He brings in a visual illustration to capture everybody’s attention – a little child. Then He drops the amazing and simple teaching: If you want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, then you need to be humble like a child. Lest we have any confusion, or try to somehow romanticize the concept of humility, the word that Jesus uses here is a word that means to be lowly, or to be pressed down or brought low. It is a word that is honestly a bit startling in its meaning, and that is because the Kingdom of Jesus is upside-down the kingdoms of this world in so many ways. The world looks down on servants, but the King of Kings exalts them. The world rewards bravado and bragging, but Jesus says the way to be great is not to tout yourself, or have your entourage tout you, but to go lower and lower – to a level of childlike humility. This won’t sell many self-help books, but it is the key to real and lasting and eternal greatness. Here’s Spurgeon with some more wisdom on this passage:
The lower down, the higher up. In a certain sense the way to heaven is downward in our own esteem certainly. “He must increase; I must decrease.” And when that straight-backed letter “I,” which often becomes so prominent, vanishes altogether, till there is not an iota of it left, then we shall become like our Lord. In the kingdom of heaven the least is the greatest. The most humble is the most exalted. He that will fulfil the lowest offices for the brethren shall be highest in their esteem. We have need to use endeavors to make ourselves truly lowly in mind; and if, through almighty grace, we succeed in it, we shall take high degrees in the school of love. What a kingdom is this, in which every man ascends by willingly going down! It is wisdom for a man to humble himself, for thus he will escape the necessity of being humbled. Children do not try to be humble, but they are so; and the same is the case with really gracious persons. The imitation of humility is sickening; the reality is attractive. May grace work it in us!…
C. H. Spurgeon, “Right-Hand Sins,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 60 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1914), 346.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Book of Matthew (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893), 149.
Our great example of humility is Jesus – who humbled Himself to greatness on the cross. Perhaps the most wondrous thing Paul ever wrote was Philippians 2:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
7 Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11
Therefore dear friends, aim for greatness, but remember the path to achieving greatness in God’s Kingdom is humility and servanthood.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for
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