READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l The disciples’ argument over who is the greatest in God’s kingdom reveal their pettiness which is found among the young and old in fallen humanity. Jesus’s answer was addressed to the disciples who were quarrelling like children.
1) Becoming children of God (V3)
Jesus declares that unless we change and become like a child, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. He explains that greatness is characterised by childlike dependence on God to teach us right and wrong, just as children depend on adults and older ones to shape their character. We need to spend time with our Heavenly Father and be reminded on who we really are. We cannot depend on the world to teach us right from wrong nor find greatness in power, wealth and whatever the world offers.
2) Becoming humble to be great (V4)
-starts from within
-is greatness in God’s kingdom
-is our humility and vulnerability toward God
-will transform relationships.
People around us view us by how we live. Do we spend time reading God’s word and praying? Do we practise the presence of God at all times and allow Him to interrupt our lives? Are we shy about our faith especially in public? Are we humble enough to ask others to pray for us and others or ask God to bless others? What they observe may be used by God to impact their faith and development. Humility is the chief of all Christian virtues, the hallmark of a child of God (Martin Llyod Jones). We need to be humble to help each other become great disciples.
3) Be welcoming, not stumbling (V5)
We honour one another by welcoming fellow children of God, not stumbling or despising others. V6-11 is addressed to anyone young in the faith, those who are spiritual infants even in adulthood. We can learn a lot from inter generations. We are all at different stages of spiritual maturity and are capable of stumbling one another. Differences and fears can be opportunities to honour one another and learn from each other. For example, the younger ones can help with tech, older ones can help the younger ones overcome life’s challenges. Be open to listen and support one another, not chase people away by our prejudices. V8 exhorts us not to cause others to sin, stumble them or lose their faith.
God’s will for the church – none should get lost
No one should get lost across the generations. Jesus came to look for the lost sheep – we/sheep; we are to do likewise. We pray for them, read the Bible and share with them, impart godly influence, help and encourage them, create platforms to reach out to them. We can serve in church and reach out to others across the generations. We are to prioritise church discipleship and reach out to others at their level of spiritual maturity.
May the Lord help us to live as children of God, not to seek honour for ourselves but to honour and help one another so that no one will be lost or left behind in God’s kingdom.
(Sermon notes by Woo Choi Yin)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Think of some heroes (e.g. movie characters, personal hero, someone you know personally) – share what makes them your heroes. What makes them great and why you look up to them? If you can – would you want to be like them? How would that affect your life?
- Discuss the context that led to Jesus’ response in Matt 18:1-14. What were the disciple’s concerns and why? Who was Jesus responding to?
- What does Jesus mean when he said in V3 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” What does Jesus say about greatness in v4-5 and how is this different from our idea of greatness?
- Do you consider yourself a “spiritual babe, spiritual youth, spiritual adult?” Why do you say so?
- Share a time when you felt stumbled in your faith or lost in your faith – how did it affect you and how did you overcome and mature?
- In vv6, 10, and 14, Who do you think are the “little ones” that Jesus is talking about? Are they children?
- What do you think Jesus is saying about the “will of the Father” towards the lost? What does it mean to you (and us all) about discipleship and discipling others (especially “little ones”)?