December 24

Text: Matthew 18:1-3

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (NASB)

Matthew saw a man with an “up-side down” view of spiritual achievement.  Jesus’ view gave the twelve disciples a major challenge to their concepts/understandings.  The twelve were accustomed to the concept that verification of spiritual greatness was either position or praise or both, but not service.

Receiving service from others was a proof of greatness, not an avenue to greatness.  The common concept was given by Jesus in Matthew 23:1-7: Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.  And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.  But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments.  And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi  (NASB).

Contrast those attitudes/actions with Matthew 20:25-28: But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (NASB).

Jesus gave powerful substance to his instructions by washing the twelve’s feet that last night and saying, "What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter" John 13:7 (NASB).

God’s priorities in determining spiritual greatness and human priorities are still not the same.  The human desire is still to be served, not to serve.  The person who belongs to the serving God serves.  Every spiritual blessing available to us begins with God’s willingness to serve us.  Were God not willing to serve, we would be without spiritual opportunity.  Jesus lived by God’s priorities.

Suggestion for reflection: How do you show the value of others?  (Read Ephesians 2:1-10.)

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