|설교 한 주일||July 17, 2011|
“The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”
(Reading of Matthew 18: 1 – 10 NIV)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
Who is the greatest? The Bible says there was an argument between the disciples who are very close to Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ was on the earth with us, He had a passion to pour out His own knowledge and understanding of heaven to His disciples but unfortunately, those disciples had another way of thinking; they walk another direction which is apart from Jesus Christ.
If you have any question to Jesus, what would that question be? I’m always asking Jesus Christ one question – ‘if you were me, what are you supposed to do in these circumstances?’ That’s my humble question to Jesus Christ all the time in my life. ‘If you are in my shoes what are you supposed to do?’ That’s what I’m asking and I want to have the answer from Jesus Christ.
There is one great question between the disciples. It was ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Is it Peter or John? Or the engineer, the doctor or the pastor? They argue, not only questioning. When you see the Bible, there is not only questioning. The gospel of Luke 9:46 say a very big argument between the disciples talking about ‘I’m the greatest…I’m number one…You’re number two…You number three…I am the one!’ Many cases, in our church also but not SFCF only, even in church the people who are the disciples of Jesus Christ argue with each other. Not that they expose themselves but maybe they were thinking to themselves, “Not him, I am! Why he or she is doing that? I am the right person to do that. I am more knowledgeable…” always like that. So, if somebody has no any chance to do any activity or any role in a church, he or she will be very much hurt and then say, “Goodbye my church! I’m looking for another church.” And then they are going to slice themselves back, backslide.
Not only that, I quote from another translation, NASB (New American Standard Bible), Luke 22:24 say, ‘there is also dispute between disciples.’ “No, not you, I am the right person. I am the greatest…” something like that so they dispute among them as to which one of them was really great or regarded to be the greatest. But they were thinking to themselves that they were regarded to be the greatest.
Once, when the disciples had argument, Jesus called one child or maybe children. Jesus called just like a sample and asked the children to stand among the people…among the adults…among the disciples…And then he started His teaching based on Matthew 18:3. It says, “And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” There are two keywords: change and become. “Because you are thinking about who is the greatest in heaven…” which means they are already sure that, “I’m going to be there! I just have like a license or key. I have a key already to heaven so there is my place already.” But Jesus said, “No, not you. I’m sorry my disciples…unless you change, unless you become, which means if you don’t change yourself, there’s no place in heaven. Don’t think about who is the greatest!” So, there are two keywords – be changed and become. Change what? In Greek term, change means change the course. If you’re thinking about who will be the greatest in heaven but you are heading for another direction, another destination; you are heading for some funny place, “Not the place where I go…” Jesus said.
When you see Romans 12:1, the very much famous, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Actually, the word change in other English term is ‘be converted’ Apostle Paul said, “Change your mind and then change yourself.” What is to be converted? I got three C’s – course, circuit and character. Convert means if I have one course maybe north east we go 45 degrees then Jesus said, “No! When you keep your heading to 45 degrees you will not have an inheritance in heaven. So you change your course. That conversion means change your course to 180 degrees, which is 235 degrees when you are heading 45 degrees today because that degree 235 is what I am heading for…” Jesus said.
Another C stands for circuit. Circuit means actually where we are roaming around, what we are doing every day. You change what is the purpose. Another C is character. What kind of character do you have? In the church, the small ones get away because this is the time for our service for adults. Many cases Satan is working through children who are not trained, destroying the service. But we have to think about that the weight of the soul is the same which means that the children and the adult is the same in the hands of God. We change our character. We change our self. We change our course.
Why children? Because they are humble. When you see in the sight of Jesus Christ, the children in between the adults are actually overlooked because they had party for the adults, party for the Jews. It is something like a great party or fiesta for the members only. If they come to the church just like a little one that they don’t know much, they are always used to be disregarded and overlooked. But Jesus called in that same time even the small one in faith because he came to the church for the very first time, because he had never exposed to the word and gospel of Jesus Christ so he was like a dummy dumb dumb sitting small. But Jesus recognized them; he called them; Jesus knows.
Also, the children they have self-humiliation. They make themselves crushed because they found nowhere to express themselves because there’s a certain barrier between two layers in which the higher layer press down. Higher layer means the adults, the experienced, and the members, whatever. But in the church, the new-be, small one, may come to the church the very first time or a very small church like the outreach churches in the mountain. In many cases they are and will be disregarded one way or another. That is how Jesus pointed out today, how Jesus made himself denied, made himself humiliated, how Jesus became the King of the kings in heaven, became as a flesh in order to love you, in order to save you and me. So, Jesus said, “Now you are talking about who is the great? I am the greatest in heaven but I became the least. Now you’re saying that you love me and then you are talking about to become a kind of position or something you will enjoy in heaven, then you will say about the greatest…greatest man…greatest pastor…greatest church…greatest teacher…greatest, greatest, greatest… ”
Today, Bible says who will be the great. The children are overlooked. They never say anything. But for you and me, sometimes when you are overlooked, how much you become so upset. “Oh, my goodness! What kind of business I have in this church. Maybe this church is not my place. I have to move because there are many churches in the world.” Jesus said, “How many times that the adults disregarded or overlooked his child but they are still there among you. Why? The children believe their parents.” The children came because they can see their parents. But the adults came because they can see themselves that they are able. The children see their parents. That is the difference. Who had a heart like humbleness; crashed themselves; humiliate themselves because he or she realized how much he or she is unable before God. “Not because of my being but because I see my parents… I see my father… I see my Lord…Even though I am nobody, I am a simple man; I just kneel down before Him. I am here. Even though I used to be disregarded by people, it doesn’t matter because I have my parents here, Jesus Christ, my Lord and my King. The disciples see themselves, even Peter. Peter used to have some argument in counting money, counting position, counting time, counting resources and then saying, “I am the number one…I am the number one…I am the number one…” But Jesus said, “Not you, sorry not you. Unless you change your mind setting, you have no position in heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven is not just somewhere, not just like somewhere over the rainbow. The kingdom of heaven is not like somewhere over the rainbow. But it is to become; when you change yourself like a child, the place where you live will be heaven. Jesus says today to you and me that to be the greatest is to be the modest. This is the teaching point of today. Five years, we are still small, SFCF. See ourselves. All barriers, all hindrances, all kinds of problems, yes, we are facing; even though, we still stay among the people because Jesus will acknowledge us. Jesus will make us to stand among the people as a sample and model. This is the time for waiting the calling from the Lord, not the time to count our self, the accountability of what I am. May God bless us throughout our anniversary.
Rev. David Bang