At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “So who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child and had him stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child — this one is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in my name welcomes me.
Jesus’ disciples wanted to know who the best of them was. Who offered the most to God’s kingdom. Jesus found a nearby child and showed him to them and said this child was the greatest among them. The child had something the disciples didn’t have. The certainty that he could offer nothing to God’s kingdom.
As a modern American Christian adult male, I’m constantly told to be a man, that I, like all other men my age are stuck in adolescence, and I need to grow up. While in many ways that is true, none of that kind of talk has enabled me to be any more of a man. Many well-intending gospel-centered manly men seem to take the gospel out of the equation as soon as they start talking to young men. They almost always seem to be saying “look more like me” instead of “look more like Jesus”. I’ve heard a lot of yelling in my direction to grow up, but not from Jesus. He says to humble myself and become like a child.
The fact that he says “humble yourself” both confirms what machismo gospel preachers are saying, and renounces it. It rebukes both them and me. Because we must humble ourselves into little children, there is no room for child-like self-centeredness, but only for the belief that I’m needy, Jesus is powerful, and I add nothing but a dropped jaw to the kingdom of God.
Jesus, thank you for coming to me with one message that can actually make me more of a man. That I need to humble myself to the state of a helpless little kid who trusts you to do a better job than I can. This is incredibly freeing when so many people are telling me I must pick myself up into adulthood, and take on more responsibility, when the only way I could ever handle any responsibility is to entrust it to you. Thank you for helping me see this, and revealing truth to me through your word this morning.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.