This post continues a year of reading and blogging through the Bible, beginning with the New Testament. You can find a link to this reading plan here. Old Testament reading and posts will begin on January 1.
Today’s reading: Matthew 18-19.
You’ll find a variety of dishes on today’s table, but they all have to do with greatness. Hungry? Let’s grab a plate.
The greatness of children. You can tell Jesus loved children. Do you know why? Because they possessed the key to greatness in the kingdom of heaven. You don’t have to be a child to be great – you just have to be child-like.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:3
- Children are humble
- Children are teachable
- Children are trusting
The greatness of God’s compassion for the lost. God states his concern for lost sheep over and over. He loves them so much he sent his only son to die for them. Shouldn’t we share the same zeal?
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matt. 18:12-13
The greatness of forgiveness. Apparently there is no room in heaven for a person who refuses to forgive others. Jesus said our forgiveness should be almost limitless.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matt. 18:35
The greatness of marriage. Jesus magnified the importance of marriage and had no sympathy for those who tried to legalize divorce. Unfaithfulness was his only reason for divorce. And he was clear about who should be getting married.
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matt. 19:4-6
The greatness of abandonment to Jesus. Many things stand between a man or woman and God. Riches are only one of those things, but a powerful one. Jesus didn’t condemn the possession of riches. He condemned the man whose riches possessed him. We must abandon everything that keeps us from devotion to God.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matt. 19:29-30
The child has three great qualities which make him the symbol of those who are citizens of the Kingdom. (i) First and foremost, there is the quality which is the keynote of the whole passage, the child’s humility. A child does not wish to push himself forward; rather, he wishes to fade into the background. He does not wish for prominence; he would rather be left in obscurity. It is only as he grows up, and begins to be initiated into a competitive world, with its fierce struggle and scramble for prizes and for first places, that his instinctive humility is left behind. (ii) There is the child’s dependence. To the child a state of dependence is perfectly natural. He never thinks that he can face life by himself. He is perfectly content to be utterly dependent on those who love him and care for him. If men would accept the fact of their dependence on God, a new strength and a new peace would enter their lives. (iii) There is the child’s trust. The child is instinctively dependent, and just as instinctively he trusts his parents that his needs will be met. When we are children, we cannot buy our own food or our own clothes, or maintain our own home; yet we never doubt that we will be clothed and fed, and that there will be shelter and warmth and comfort waiting for us when we come home…The child’s humility is the pattern of the Christian’s behaviour to his fellow-men, and the child’s dependence and trust are the pattern of the Christian’s attitude towards God, the Father of all. – Barclay, Daily Study Bible
Image by CharlesFred on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0