Matthew 18:1 (and kinda 2)

Matthew 18:1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them…

Those who immigrate into his Kingdom do so by adoption only. Heaven does not invite the skilled and the worthy to join it’s forces in an attempt to make it greater than it already is. (Exerpt)

When I look at a verse and try to find what God is saying to me, the first thing I do is try to find similarities between my behavior and the behavior of those in the story. When I see the disciples asking a question like, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” I remember my attitude from just a couple of days ago, riding my bike up a very steep hill, with a tailor on the back and two children aboard. As I wheeled up the hill full of determination, I noticed other riders giving-up and beginning to walk. As my pride began to swell, I would ask questions like “I wonder who has noticed my exceptional perseverance, I wonder if they’re impressed, maybe they’re talking about how impressive I am?” It sounds so stupid when I write it down, but that’s honestly what I thought as I peddled the incline.
Or what about the time 2 weeks ago when by God’s grace three people who I’d invited to visit the church all showed up on Sunday. Praise God! It makes me very happy to know each of those people had an experience among Christians where they were welcomed. However the next days I began receiving praise for inviting so many people. Again the self exalting questions begin to sprout. “I wonder if anyone else has been so successful in inviting people to visit the church. I wonder if anyone considers me to be a successful evangelist? Maybe they consider me to be the best among our group?” Yes, if anyone from our group were to read this, they would probably glare at the computer with disgust and disbelief for my unwarranted ego obsession. But the truth is – that’s me. That’s the Benny McGrath that deserves hell. That’s the Benny McGrath that needs a savior.

Here in verse 1 the disciples are exposing their total oblivion to the truth of the Gospel. What they don’t know is: as far as the greatest in Kingdom of heaven goes, there is only one contender. Jesus Christ. His holiness, his righteousness, his effort, his deeds, his words, his life. Only Jesus Christ and him alone qualifies for a human permissible to heaven. If anyone else is in heaven, they are not there on their own merit, but on his. They come in his name, they wear his crown, they sit on his throne, they inherit his inheritance and they eat from his table. If everyone in heaven is there in his name, they how can they be greater? Greater than who? Greater than the host himself? But anything less than his righteousness would not be great at all, and wouldn’t fit in his Kingdom. Just like the man who came to the table of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:12 whose clothing was his own common clothes and not the prestigious wedding clothes provided by the host (tailored in perfection by the hands of our precious savior).

While the King has the right to glorify and and condemn who he wishes, the fact remains; no-one is glorified by their own merit, Christ alone meets the standard of righteousness required for the citizens of Heaven. Those who immigrate into his Kingdom do so by adoption only. Heaven does not invite the skilled and the worthy to join it’s forces in an attempt to make it greater than it already is. It is already as great as it could ever be – not because of it’s citizens, but because of it’s King. Heaven invites the children, too weak to defend themselves, too selfish to know what’s right, too poor to provide clothes worthy of the Kings table. The King himself adopts them, and they don’t enter by their own name, but in his name. They don’t wear their own clothes, but his clothes. They don’t eat of food they prepared, they can’t, they have nothing to prepare and know knowledge to prepare it.

The adopted child is totally dependent on the grace of the adoptive father.

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