On October 12, we celebrate the children’s day in Brazil. And while this date is really focused on children, I thought I’d bring to this blog a comment about a sermon from Jesus about the importance of being like them.
The text is well known. Many people, however, take it literally and believe that Jesus really was talking about little children. But in this study we will see what the Lord actually meant by this passage:
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mt 18:1-6)
Jesus was in Capernaum. Most likely at a family reunion at Peter’s house. When faced with an uncomfortable situation. With a still shallow understanding, the disciples debated among themselves on many occasions as to who should be the greatest. You can see that the intent of their hearts was still perverted and inclined to self-satisfaction and their ego.
We know that one of the greatest struggles of the human being is against pride. When we begin to seek more knowledge or have more understanding about Christianity. Or when we begin to be seen in positions of prominence or leadership, our flesh begins to make us think that we really have more understanding than others or that by our good works we end up being loved more by God toward other sinners. This is absurd. But it happens a lot.
“…Except ye be converted, and become as little children…“
The word conversion is often used when one abandons doctrines of other religions and begins to attend evangelical churches. That is a big mistake. I am absolutely sure that there are many people within the churches who are not yet converted. And this is not a surprise to anyone.
To convert is nothing more than to totally change the conduct and the way of thinking. In the text, Jesus says that this process should be done by becoming as little children. That is, being innocent, understanding our low knowledge, recognizing our spiritual bankruptcy and inability to come to God without a mediator, and standing as an eternal apprentice before God and others. That is, having humility.
“…Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven…”
It is clear that self-humiliation and understanding of our position as sinners is essential and crucial for us to be aligned with God’s will. Jesus did not mean that there is a hierarchy among men in heaven. That would incite a kind of competition. The lesson left is that to obtain divine approval of character, we must know how to serve one another in love. As Paul also quotes in Galatians 5: 13-14.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
At the end of the text, Jesus continues to use the children to illustrate a situation. He does not say exactly the term “children”, but he says “little ones wich believe in me”. To receive a child of God is to know how to welcome a brother in Christ to help him reach spiritual maturity.
“Offend” as a consequence is to mislead any of God’s children. Failing to reveal the truth to him and leading him to sin. The word can also be understood as “scandalizing” as it comes from the term “skandalizo” in Greek.
Anyone who does this consciously is making a serious mistake. And is sinning against their own conscience and also against God Himself.
Let us proceed then, growing into maturity. With a pure heart and humility. Striving against our ego and to serve each other in love. God bless you all!