Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)





fifth sunday in martyrs’ tide

Sermon Starter

The Gospel Reading written in Matthew 18 is very rich in a wide variety of topics: the serious nature of sin, the generosity of God’s forgiveness, the love God has for His little ones, and the serious consequences of leading His little ones astray. Of all these topics, the one topic that seems to underlie most of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 18 is the topic of Christ’s little ones.

Matthew 18 begins with one of those teachable moments in which the disciples plant their feet firmly in their mouths and ask Jesus a question.  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” This question tells us that the disciples don’t get it. They are still trying to figure out which post they will have in Jesus’ cabinet once He takes over.

Jesus’ teaching defuses this kind of thinking. And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus did not choose one of the disciples, but a child. Here Jesus teaches that the one who is humble like a child is the greatest in the Kingdom.

As we proceed through the rest of Matthew 18, Jesus expands on His teaching about children.  “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” That is pretty serious. The type of millstone that Jesus describes here needs a donkey or an ox to turn it and would weigh more than a ton.

Jesus also said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Even as Jesus tells the story of searching for the one lost sheep out of one hundred, He tells us, “So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

Collect of the Day

O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us, Your humble servants, Your holy inspiration, that we may set our minds on the things that are right and, by Your merciful guiding, accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.