HYMN Jesus, the very thought of Thee
1 Jesu, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills my breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.
2 No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the memory find,
a sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind.
3 O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind thou art!
how good to those who seek!
4 But what to those who find? Ah, this
no tongue or pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is
none but his loved ones know.
5 Jesu, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now
and through eternity.
Bernard of Clairvaux (attributed)(1090-1153), translated by Edward Caswall (1814-1878),
READING Matthew 18: 1-9
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
18 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.
Causing to Stumble
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.
SERMON – THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM
It is the same humility which allows a soul to enter the Kingdom of heaven which allows the KING to enter the soul. That Jesus Who was prepared to become a baby for our sakes/humbled Himself and took on the form of human nature – calls us to become babes. The natural order of procession is from baby to man, but Jesus doesn’t say that unless a child be converted into a man shall he enter Heaven BUT UNLESS YOU change and become like little children!
Our chapter opens with the disciples showing their pride and human ambition.
How does Jesus deal with His wayward friends?
Well, He calls a little child to stand in the midst of them! Can you imagine the scene as one of Joe Biden’s aides asks for advice from the President about some important matter of state, and old Joe calls in a little child from the street into the oval office and tells the little one to stand amongst America’s top team – and as they are all standing open-mouthed, he tells them NOW LEARN FROM THIS LITTLE CHILD!
THAT is exactly how the disciples felt. They had asked a very important question, in their way of thinking. And Jesus allows a little urchin to be their guide! You will remember that they didn’t have much time for children – when Jesus had to tell them off – DO NOT FORBID THEM – LET THE CHILDREN COME TO ME! Why ? For – the Kingdom belongs to such as these!
And today, Jesus draws THREE lessons from the child:
w 2-4 They are little – and we must become little
vs 5 We are to welcome them
vs 6 ff We must not cause them to sin!
1) THE FIRST LESSON is that children are little and we must, like them, become little. Now clearly we cannot physically get any smaller (except by dieting – and that is not what Jesus meant here) – if not PHYSICAL, then He must have been thinking of the SPIRITUAL realm.
What do we know about children? Well, they are simple and have a simple trust in their parents. Likewise, we must be more simple in our TRUST of our heavenly Father. How adult we are when we question Him and His wisdom! And how wrong!
Children are also more straightforward and unself-conscious and free in their love than are adults, generally speaking. Likewise we ought to be more and more conscious of Jesus and less so about ourselves; indeed we ought to care nothing about what the world thinks of us and simply LOVE Jesus with all our hearts – no holding back!
2) WE ARE TO WELCOME the children – for in so doing we are welcoming Christ. Do you believe that? What are your views about children in Church here? Do you welcome them?
Indeed, do you welcome ANYONE to this Church? Do you show hospitality as the Scriptures encourage you?
3) WE MUST NOT CAUSE A LITTLE ONE TO SIN. Now, this may make you feel good. WELL I NEVER CAUSED ANYONE TO SIN IN MY LIFE! DIDN’T you? Jesus goes on in verses 7 and following to say that there are many things which may cause someone to sin – it may be a hand or a foot or an eye – you must be sure that NOTHING will keep you out of heaven – and be sure that you don’t hinder anyone else.
Jesus started off with the PRIDE in His disciples’ hearts. That is public enemy number ONE in terms of keeping people out of heaven. Some people will simply NOT humble themselves to enter heaven’s LOW DOOR. They keep their heads up high (and often their noses too) and that will be their downfall. Others will have obvious sins – others will have sins in their hearts and in their minds – some will be the cause for people leaving the Church or for not entering it – maybe just because of the kind of people they are – and Jesus’ word for each and every one is: CHANGE!
Come down to the child’s level – make a brand new start – with Jesus as your Saviour, your Lord, your Friend, your Everything!
Hymn – My Jesus, my Saviour
My Jesus, my Saviour,
Lord, there is none like You.
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship You.
Shout to the Lord all the earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down
And the seas will roa r
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands.
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand.
Nothing compares to the
Promise I have in You.