Who Is the Greatest In the Kingdom?

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”—Matthew 18:4 (NKJV)

Jesus is the ultimate script flipper. We’re our own self-certified experts on life until Jesus enters the scene and shows us that what we thought was right was really wrong; what we believed to be up was actually down.

The gospels are studded with these pivot points where our perspective is rotated and recalibrated . . . and we see one here in Matthew 18:4. In context, the disciples—who’d been living shoulder-to-shoulder with Jesus for months—start debating which of them will be greatest in God’s Kingdom. If we’re honest, we can identify with that. Whether it’s in the boardroom, on the playing field, in the classroom, or maybe even at church, the urge to be better than the rest is there.

Undoubtedly, the disciples had an image of what “better” looked like . . . an image based on the values the world around them had conditioned them to accept. So Jesus flips the script on them by bringing a little child before them and basically saying, “This is what greatness looks like in My Kingdom.” You can hear the pin drop as their minds swirled.

What was Jesus saying here? What is it about a child that’s so great?

Ironically, it’s what a child doesn’t have that makes them great. They don’t have the baggage of self-sufficiency and pride that we tend to acquire over time. The original Greek text indicates this child was between the age of an infant and a toddler. A child of that age doesn’t have any allusions of self-sufficiency and isn’t prideful. It has nothing to boast about because it fully understands it needs mom and dad for everything!

Jesus was telling these calloused men that they needed to grow young again. To be great in God’s Kingdom, they had to be totally dependent on Him for everything! No boasting, no bragging; but to be completely humbled by the reality that they were utterly helpless without their Heavenly Father.

The same is true for us. Our greatness in God’s Kingdom is measured by our humility. We too need to grow young—to walk in child-like humility by letting go of all sense of self-sufficiency and taking hold of our Heavenly Father’s hand.

DIG: How did Jesus flip the script on the disciples?

DISCOVER: In what ways can you relate to the disciples?

DISPLAY: What does “growing young” specifically look like in your life

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.