The Greatness of a Child

As the reality of the Messiah becomes more and more evident to the disciples, their attention turns, not to service but greatness. Jesus then explains what greatness truly means in the Kingdom of Heaven demonstrating the example of a child.


Steps to Greatness are:

  • Change
  • Become like a child
  • Take their lowly position
  • Welcome God’s children

Bible Passage

Matt 18.1-5; Mark 9.33-37; Luke 9.46-48; John 13.20

Matthew18:1 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.

Bible Passage

Luke 9:46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Historical Context

In the previous passage, we see that the coin in the fish was an indicator to the world and the disciples that Jesus is the ruler of the universe whose kingdom shall never end. Almost all missed the opportunity to connect with Jesus.

The disciples could have been grateful for associating with the great King (though they were still hazy in their faith). They could have tuned themselves more to his every word.

Historical Context

Instead of exalting Jesus, they were attempting to exalt themselves as next in line and arguing about who among them was the greatest. In other passages, Jesus has also predicted his death.

They may have been arguing over the successor.

They  were on a very dangerous track. Jesus halts them on their tracks.

Mark 9:33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.


What do we learn from this verse?

Romans 12:1,2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


Offer your bodies to God as a living sacrifice

 – dedicated to God’s service

 – Separated from worldly habits

Renew your minds

 – Let the spirit speak

 – let the word flow

 – let  your hearts be receptive


Change involves:

  • Attitude of gratitude
  • Seeking service rather than position
  • Exalting Christ and humbling ourselves
  • Realizing our complete dependency and inadequacy
  • Implicit obedience and faith


Become Like a Child

When Jesus lifted the child before the disciples, historian Ron Charles said it was a  Down’s syndrome child whom we may term mentally retarded.

These children were made to do menial tasks, were sex slaves and had the lowest position in society

They are completely dependent on others.

Become Like a Child

Jesus says that to enter the kingdom of heaven we should become like a child.

This is not optional, it is a mandate!

Become Like a Child

A child:

  • Is already small has faith and humility due to his low position in society, more so a Down’s syndrome child
  • Makes very few decision, and mainly follows their parents/ teachers’ instructions
  • Obeys his/ her parents

Become Like a Child

Even though they were following Jesus, the disciples still had their preconceived notions. They were hardwired with certain opinions and mandates particularly from their Jewish society.

Jesus was teaching them to unlearn many things and relearn the way of truth.

Take their Lowly position

Humility is a result of:

  • years of discipleship
  • allowing the word to reveal our true selves – reality
  • understanding the greatness of God
  • a long term growing relationship with our creator realizing His grace in our lives
  • Jesus shining through us
  • God becomes larger and we become smaller

False Humility

Rushing to take the back seat

Not accepting credit due graciously but being negative of one’s self

Not embracing God given talents, but feeling inadequate

Welcome God’s children

There are many disciples of Christ on the earth belonging to different races, nationalities, churches.

We may have our earthly differences but need to see beyond them to the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

We may have different spiritual convictions, orientations, may be weaker or stronger. We need to wipe away our preset notions and blend and work with God’s people.


1.What do we learn from Romans 12:1,2 about change?

2.In what ways do we need to improve on becoming “like a child”

3.How can we put away our differences and accept all believers as God’s children, and work with them?

What did they expect from Jesus?

The incident attracted a lot of attention on Peter and he would have felt important.

As per tradition, he was the person who pointed the way to Jesus, the Ruler of the Universe.

The other disciples too, shortly after were debating on “who is the greatest”.

They fail to realize that they were nothing before the great Ruler of the Universe, Jesus, who was walking with them.

They feel entitled to privileges and miss out on the fact that being with Him is the greatest privilege. They are to find that out later.

What do we expect from Him?

Do we feel entitled?

Many feel and teach that children of the kingdom are more privileged in terms of worldly benefits above others. That may happen due to our better moral and spiritual values, but other than that we are on a level playing field.

Technically we have received much more than we can or have given to Jesus. We are always in debt.

Whatever we receive is by His grace alone. His presence with us through life’s journey is the greatest gift.

As children of the King of Kings, we are incredibly blessed.

What does he expect from us?

Faith and obedience to follow in His footsteps. To:

  • Respect authorities
  • Connect to the level of others
  • Participate in secular traditions where we can point to Jesus
  • Never compromise kingdom principles
  • Allow actions to speak
  • Point to Jesus
  • Sow seeds for faith to grow


The incident attracted a lot of attention on Peter and he would have felt important.

1.How can we participate in secular activities without compromise? Share examples from your life.

2.What are certain things we feel we deserve because we are Christians? What is the right attitude?

3.What are different ways we can sow seeds of faith in other people’s lives? Share examples from your life.

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