“Jesus and the Greatest” out of Matthew 18:1-9 was preached on June 17th, 2012 by Pastor Brett Baggett at the worship gathering of Ekklesia Muskogee. Week #23 in Ekklesia’s The King and His Cross sermon series.
Community Group Discussion
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 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.
7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
When Jesus’ disciples come asking “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven,” Jesus first shows them what it looks like to even enter his kingdom. He teaches them that if anyone is to enter his Kingdom, they must be changed by God and become dependent on Jesus work in their place. This is the nature of the gospel. Jesus took everything we deserve so that he could give us everything he deserves. God’s grace is given to us and changes us to become dependent on Jesus Christ’s satisfactory work in our place (his life, death, and resurrection). Jesus takes away our sin, makes us righteous, and gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit to comfort, convict, and lead us. Jesus then answers the disciple’s question and tells them that the greatest in his Kingdom are the ones that are most dependent. Not the most independent, not the most skilled, not the most talented, not the strongest, but the most dependent. True greatness in Jesus’ Kingdom is marked by those who are dependent on Jesus’ work in their place, God the Father’s love and sovereignty, the Holy Spirit’s empowering and leading, the church community that Jesus has blessed them with, and the leading, feeding, and discipline of the Pastor’s that Jesus has placed over them. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus then shows us the magnitude of sin, which is cosmic treason against Holy God. Jesus helps us understand the seriousness of our need for his sacrifice in our place to free us from the death, destruction, and separation that our sin brings about. Jesus paid it all so that we could enter his Kingdom and be great in his Kingdom by being completely dependent on him.
Q1: Independence is a much sought after state in our culture. How is it contrasted by the Gospel? How or where do you struggle with being dependent? Talk about the past, the present, and where you hope to get in the future. Try and be specific.
Q2: Jesus uses some brutal terminology in verses 6-9. Why do you think this is the way he illustrates the perils of sin?
When you start to see the magnitude of sin, “drown yourself in the sea,” “cut off your hand or your foot,” “tear out your eye,” you are beginning to understand why Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was necessary. Jesus paid the price for our admission into his all-satisfying Kingdom.
On the cross, Jesus was drowned in the sea of God’s wrath and judgement to pay for our sin. On the cross, Jesus was cut off from the land of the living so that we wouldn’t have to be. On the cross, Jesus was torn from the presence of God, so that we could be ushered in. This is good news.