Please know that If you ARE part of the kingdom of heaven, that His kingdom is NOT of this world.
The King of kings and Lord of lords has just shown and explained to Peter (petros) by using the analogy of who pays custom and tribute and who does not, that the king's children, i.e. the children of the king's house who are therefore the children of the kingdom, are free indeed (Mat. 17:26). Of course that makes even more sense when one considers that spiritually speaking, it is the many membered body of Christ that makes up the temple as Peter himself would later explain in 1 Pet. 2:5... "ye also as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
Now we are going to learn a great lesson about that kingdom of heaven, the family of God, as Jesus Christ imparts to us some essential knowledge along with His precious wisdom and instruction regarding humility and how we should act toward and treat our brothers and sisters, the children of the kingdom.
Our lesson begins with the following question:
The context of this question lets us know that the disciples are asking who "among us" is the greatest. But still, don't you think this is an amazing question from the disciples considering that the King of the kingdom, the greatest One of all, who for some time now has been teaching them and leading them by example, was standing right there with them? Well... perhaps it is not so amazing nor such an unusual question for many there are today who "dispute among themselves" concerning who is the greatest, the 7,000, the 144,000, etc. Nevertheless, this subject of "who should be the greatest" had been on the minds of the disciples for sometime now and Christ of course knew it. Mark 9:33-34 "And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?  But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest."Matthew 18:1
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Note: The Greek word for "great" used here is "meizon" which a comparative of "megas".
Perhaps at this point the other disciples thought Peter, James, and John were receiving special attention since they were the only ones Jesus had taken up into an high mountain apart to be shown the transfiguration. Whether that is true or not as to what they thought, they have now asked Christ the big question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?", and He shall begin to answer that question by first making a visual model for our flesh eyes to see and from which we can draw a simple spiritual analogy (see Rom. 1:20). Surely you have heard the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words". Well, memory experts have confirmed that old adage to be true by demonstrating that people remember infinitely more of what they see than what they hear or read. That being the case and to help give contrast to the imagery Christ is about to show us, take a few moments to see and analyze what picture comes into your mind's eye when you hear or read "the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"...megas, great, large, of physical magnitude, of the measure, number, cost and estimation of things. (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, by E. W. Bullinger, pg. 342)
... Ok, time is up. What do you see? Perhaps an hierarchy where one is exalted or elevated in stature and importance over the others? Now let us "see" and understand the picture Jesus Christ wants us to "see"!
See this simple picture! See a little child "called" by Jesus Christ now standing in the midst of the disciples... in the midst of all those elder brothers.Matthew 18:2
And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them,
Physically, we ALL start out as little children before we can mature and become adults, don't we? And one very important thing we must keep in mind is that little children trust and believe in what their elders, especially those of their own family, tell them to be true and they also follow after and do what their elders tell them to. That alone makes little children very vulnerable and susceptible to lies and spiritual (or otherwise) seduction. 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.
To that end, there are two points Christ makes concerning little children. The first is that one must be converted, which is to be "turned about", and be humbled to spiritually become as a little child, else he or she will never even enter into the kingdom of heaven. Secondly, one had better be real careful how he or she handles and treats a little child of God, a babe in Christ. For if one does not receive that child "in His name" but rather "offends" (scandalizes) one of God's own kids, that person shall eventually experience our Father's wrath for as it is written in the Commandments, that one SHALL NOT be held guiltless! This is a most serious matter so we had better pay close attention to Christ's instructions.
There are several aspects to both humbleness and greatness, one of which, the humbleness of service, we will cover in more detail when Christ addresses it in chapter 23. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
However, here is a little preview:
Even He who truly IS the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, the King of kings and Lord of lords, both humbled Himself and became the greatest servant of all.Matthew 23:11
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Unlike Lucifer who sought to exalt himself above the throne of God (Isa. 14:13), Christ did not seek to exalt Himself and become "of reputation", which is to be renowned and looked up to by men.Philip. 2:7-11
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Christ's power and glory and authority, recognized by His name, is above every other name in both heaven and earth. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Yes, even those "under the earth" (in the pit), i. e. Satan and his demonic angels, are subject to the name (authority) of Jesus Christ. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
It is our Father in heaven to whom glory and honor belongs and is given... NOT us. As it is written (Mat. 23:12), he who exalts himself (again, a characteristic of Satan) SHALL BE abased! So be humble in dealing with your brothers and sisters and seek not your own glory but rather "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16)." For you "see", the works that you do are not your own works, but the work of God which is the doing of His will. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Also remember that if you ARE part of the kingdom of heaven, that His kingdom is NOT of this world (John 18:36).Philip. 2:3
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
So with that preview in mind, let us return to the spiritual point Christ now follows up with in verses 5-14, which is that the greatest (as in the most important) ones in the kingdom of heaven, the family of God, are the little children, even those whom He has called who are now babes in Christ. That only makes sense for is it not true that the most important members in our families, even our nation, are the little children who must be fed and nurtured and provided for? Of course it is and a loving parent is not only willing to make sacrifices to care for that child but would even give his or her own life to protect or save that precious child. And God help those who would try and molest that parent's child.
Understanding then that the greatest, even the most important one, in the kingdom of heaven is one who has become lowly and has "humbled himself as this little child" (Mat. 18:4), let us see how we should "receive one such little child".
Again, a little child trusts and believes in what the adults tell him, doesn't he? So to receive a little child in Christ's name is to receive that child with and according to His Word, which is to do it in the power and love and authority of Jesus Christ. You see, when we get to Matthew 24 Christ will explain that in these last days many will come (and have already) in His name, i.e. claiming to represent Him as Christian ministers and preachers and priests, etc., and deceive many. Matthew 24:5 "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."Matthew 18:5
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
These many who come in His name do NOT receive the precious little children (Think "babes in Christ"/New Christians)of the kingdom in His name. Instead, they entrap them and then spiritually seduce the little children by teaching the traditions of men which cause them to go astray! And our Father doesn't like it! Would you?deceive, planao, plan-ah'-o, Greek 4105; from Greek 4106 (plane); to (properly cause to) roam (from safety, truth, or virtue) :- go astray, deceive, err, seduce, wander, be out of the way.
The word "offend" in Greek is "skandalizo" from which we derive our word "scandal".Matthew 18:6
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.
In these last days we are more than accustomed to seeing scandal after scandal even in the arena of religion and churches. But the "scandal of the worst kind" is to "offend one of these little ones which believe in me (Christ)"! You "see", when a person reaches a point in his or her life, perhaps when his whole world has become dark and turned upside down as in "tohu va bohu", and he or she now "turns (converts) to" the light and becomes humble as a little child before Christ, he or she is very vulnerable and susceptible to "scandal"! If you therefore are a "spiritual child molester" you are in big, big trouble! Our Father does NOT like it when His children are "molested" and led astray by those who claim to represent Christ by calling themselves Christian preachers, ministers, priests, bishops, or whatever title of exaltation they may bestow upon themselves... like "reverend" or "most holy", etc!offend, skandalizo, skan-dal-id'-zo, Greek 4624; ("scandalize"); from Greek 4625 (skandalon); to entrap, i.e. trip up (figurative stumble [transitive] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure) :- (make to) offend.
As we read earlier, it was foretold by Christ Himself in Mat. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 that there would be massive offenses (deception and leading astray, i.e. casting of stumbling blocks) in these last days by the many would come claiming to represent Him. Just make sure you are not involved in the "scandalizing" of the little children by teaching them to follow the vain (empty) traditions of men which make void the Word of God, i.e. make it of none effect (Mat. 15:16, Mark 7:13).Furthermore, do not support those members who do teach those vain traditions which cause our people to stumble and fall or you become partakers of their evil deeds (2 Jn. 1:11).Let us be reminded of the 3rd Commandment which we referred to earlier in our study. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
It reads as follows:
Again, to take the name of the LORD is to claim His authority, to claim that you represent Him and therefore His Word.Exodus 20:7
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
So if you set yourself up as a teacher, taking and using His name by claiming you represent Him, and you teach the vain (empty) traditions of men instead of teaching His words, the Word of God, chapter by chapter and line by line, thus leading His children astray and causing them to be lost, you will pay a great price. "The LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain".
To that end, the following analogies Christ gives to us are given to instruct us how to "spiritually" separate ourselves from members of the body of Christ who unrepentantly cause offenses to the body.
Christ is in no way talking about severing a flesh body part for the subject is still "scandalizing" the children of God which includes all our brothers and sisters. He is speaking of those members of the body which bring offence and cause our people to stumble and fall and miss out on salvation. A "hand" for example is used to symbolize "work" and as it is written to the whole body, all 7 churches in Rev. 2 & 3, He knows your works, i.e. what your hand does! If your "hand" (work) causes children of the kingdom to stumble and fall, as do the works of 5 out of the 7 churches in Rev. 2 & 3, then you better stop it! Cut it off... as in cut it out,! Likewise if other hands or laborers will not turn and humble themselves as little children but continue to set stumbling blocks before the people, cut them off as well. The same applies to a "foot" who walks not in the path of righteousness (His Word) but carries the body down the wrong path. Go on crutches if you must, but always walk in His way... unerring in His Word.Matthew 18:8
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Your "eye" is that member which "sees" and watches over the body and which keeps an eye out (pun, pun) for the enemy while guarding the Word of Truth and Justice. If your "seer" is seeing and teaching things other than that which is written in Father's Word, like an any moment rapture theory or some other nonsensical and non-scriptural doctrine, then separate yourself from that part which causes the offence. Again, the subject is "scandalizing", the leading astray by false doctrines and the traditions of men which cause our people to fall into apostasy and lead them straight to hell, to the lake of fire at the end of Millennium. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
As we learned in a prior study, many so-called Christian preachers and ministers are nothing more than thieves and robbers who teach for vainglory and/or money! In fact, that is the problem with the members of the church of Pergamos who held to the doctrine of Balaam, i.e. whose ministers preached for money.
The word "stumblingblock" in Greek is "skandalon"! You "see", Balaam was even a true priest of Israel, but if one takes the time to read the account he or she will find he preached to Balac, i.e. the Moabites, for MONEY.Know any churches like that? Do you know any churches that concentrate on tithes, and fund raisers, and pledges of money, and pass the plate, and building funds, etc, etc. fact at one point Balaam had his ass so loaded with "donations" that God intervened with an angel and had the ass speak to Balaam to bring him to his senses. So if you listen to or support a "seer", a teacher who should be a true watchman but who instead sees big $$$$ and is always asking for money or donations, then be wary my friend and "turn about" and sever yourself from that part.Rev. 2:14
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Here are Christ's words to the church of Pergamos who supports the doctrine of Balaam: Rev. 2:16 "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
So that takes care of the unrepentant "offenders", but where does that leave the little ones?
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
The point is, our Father knows exactly what is happening to His children at any given moment. In fact, all that has ever happened is a matter of recorded witness and testimony and the fact is that the children of house of Israel have been "scandalized" by false prophets (even in the first earth age) and they have wandered so far astray from His Word that they have lost their way back home to the Father. That is why Jesus Christ came... to save that which was lost.2 Kings 6:17
And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
The lost sheep of the House of Israel have sinned and gone astray and now wander in the wilderness. However, our Father has NOT lost track of the very least of them and though they are sinners, they are still His children and each and everyone of them are dear and precious to Him. And you know what? When one of them repents and finds his or her way back home, their angels REJOICE, even their own family members who have lived and died and are now part of that heavenly host being that they are in their spiritual bodies.Matthew 18:11
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
So do not despise, as in cast aside, even one of the little ones who believe in Him! To that end, Christ now gives an analogy of how wonderful it is find a lost sheep after diligently seeking for him or her.Luke 15:10
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Did you know that one hundred denotes "Election of Grace" or the "Children of Promise" in Biblical numerics?Matthew 18:12
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
What a wonderful feeling it must be after having a child that you love so much but who has gone astray, finally return home to your open arms. Would you not call that the happiest day in your life? Well, our Father has many lost children due to the great "scandalizer" himself, Satan the devil, and all those who have become hands and feet and eyes for him in these last days. However, make no mistake about it! Father still loves each and everyone of His lost children and it is His heartfelt desire that each little one repent and return to His open arms. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Peter (petros) knew and understood this and gives a second witness to our Father's desire that ALL should come to repentance and not be cast into the hell fire! Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
What a happy day it is for our Father when one of His lost children does come to repentance and returns home to Him. Therefore, do not neglect nor despise the little ones, but rather receive them in His name and lead them to the kingdom of heaven through His precious Word. He will love you for it!2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits;
to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.
E-mail address - email@example.com
If you would like to have your essay
as part of the American Wisdom Series
submit your manuscript to Rhine Publishing Co
at the address above for consideration, or e-mail us
at the address shown on our home page.
Click Here to Return to "The American Wisdom Series" home page.