Defining Moment

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day seven)  

“Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

What would have happened if Jesus had given them an answer they actually sought? Would the group as a whole be able to respect the decision while being hurt that it was not them? The question revealed their personal intentions and expectations. They had not quite figured it all out yet. At this point they were not there to serve Jesus, they were there for what Jesus could bring them.

Where were you when you figured it out? Where were you when you realized that being a Christian is not about what Jesus can do for you but what you can do for Jesus?

I think this was that moment for the disciples. Maybe not immediately, but looking back they saw this illustration and realized what it took to be heavenly residents. All three synoptic writers include this event in their account. John addresses his readers in 1 John as Little Children. The disciples all looked back at this illustration as a defining moment. They were Better Together when the together was centered on Jesus.

Your True Self

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day six)  

Jesus wasn’t using children as a mere object lesson. No, I think he really enjoyed being with them; listening to them, playing with them, answering their often whimsical but sincere questions. There is an authenticity to children that is rare among the aged, beginning as early as the tween years. Younger kids, most often, are what you see is what you get. They have no pretense or guile; they embody a true freedom to be themselves.

This was a significant contrast with the whitewashed tombs of many of the religious leaders of the day. All pretty on the outside, but full of dried up bones. Not so sure if Jesus enjoyed spending too much time with the likes of them.

At the end of the day, humility is the ability to be authentic; a keen self-awareness that doesn’t mind being fully seen and known…and redeemed.

Wrong Question, Right Answer

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day five)  

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus seemingly doesn’t answer the question the disciples asked Him. Unless you realize that they have asked the wrong question. So, Jesus teaches them by giving the right answer to their wrong question.

What is Jesus teaching them?  What is He desiring for them to “see” and grasp?  Humility. A child’s status in that day??  A nobody. A child is to be “looked after”, not “looked up to”. (Better Together)

I’ll end with a quote from CS Lewis about humility:

“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.
Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.
If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

A Humble Approach

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day four)

The disciples, like us, were trying to superimpose their understanding of how things work here on earth with how things will be in heaven.  On earth, we tend to always seek something better.  If we can get more possessions, or more power, or more influence, we can get greater status or authority…it is a constant drive in life to yearn for more.  In our passage, the disciples are asking Jesus what they need to do to get ahead in heaven.

Contentment is sometimes an elusive character quality.  To be satisfied with what God has provided, rather than always seeking more, is known as humility. To see life through the humble eyes of a child, allows us to approach God in a heart attitude that sees Him for who He really is…Almighty God!  Isn’t it just backward to our thinking that the more we do to impress God does not get us more.  The more we rest in God and are steadfast in our seeking Him, the more pleasing we are in our faith!

You

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day three)

Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

The scientific advances in physics which have led to manipulation of electromagnetism to encode information digitally and convey it over vast networks of interconnected devices have all been brought to bear to create this message: “Your call is important to us.” Does anyone alive believe that’s true? We have harnessed the power of the cosmos and we’ve used it to lie to ourselves. Is it any wonder you might think, “Do I matter to another person, even to God?” That’s the haunting thought at the bottom of the old “Who’s the greatest?” query. It turns out that God loves just you – the you absent the meticulously crafted image, behind your defenses, without your escape hatches, like you used to be when you were a child, before the world taught you to hide.

Cynicism

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day two) Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Vs. 4

This is such a perfect illustration. The Lord uses the word humble in his description of children. Humility seems to be something that we unlearn as we age. I wonder if we can consider that children are not cynical when it comes to authority. That is something that they will often learn to be, but in general, they don’t wince and moan when in the presence of a better. Cynicism is a cloud that distorts our ability to see clearly, to obey without bitterness, and love unconditionally. Children demonstrate this better than us. This is what Jesus is asking us to learn.

Re:Verse Blog – 8/1/22

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 18:1-4 (day one)

Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Matthew 18:1-4 in our Summer Re:Verse Series: “Better Together.”

Get Out of the Tree

Re:Verse passage – Luke 19:1-10 (day seven) 

And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. vs 6

The icon above was done by William Holman Hunt in the 1850’s and was titled “The Light of the World.” People from around the world flocked to see what became known as a “sermon in a frame.” Jesus, carrying a lantern,  penetrating the darkness, has come to a door that seems to have been overgrown with weeds and has rusty nails and hinges, but the most peculiar thing is that there is no door handle on the outside. The sermon in the frame: it is up to the person on the other side to let Jesus in.

“Christ will not force himself into any man’s house, and sit there against the man’s will. That would not be the action of a guest, but of an unwelcome intruder.” Charles Spurgeon

Zaccheus had to come down from the tree and receive Jesus into his house. Like Zaccheus, when we go looking for Jesus, He will call us to do something. It is our responsibility to be faithfully obedient to His calling. It is our job to get out of the tree.  It is our job to open the door.  When we are obedient, He will then come in and dwell with us and show us more than we could have ever imagined.

Climb

Re:Verse passage – Luke 19:1-10 (day six) 

There is a child-likeness to Zacchaeus’ faith. With little concern about those around him, he hustles himself up into a tree to get the best view of Jesus. He didn’t want to miss this; he had heard the stories after all. One of his disciples was a tax collector.

It is this kind of faith that Jesus praises in the children who came to seek his blessing in chapter 18 (a foreshadowing of Zacchaeus). Child-like faith is persistently eager, rambunctious even or single-minded in its efforts to have the best view. 

It is willing to climb if it has to. Today ask the Lord to renew a childlike faith in you.

Evidence

Re:Verse passage – Luke 19:1-10 (day five) 

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”

The gospel requires faith AND obedience. Believing and behaving. Conviction and repentance. They go together. When we trust and follow, the Lord will call us to take the first step and then He will call for the next step and then the next step. We read about Zaccheus’ first step in Luke 19.

Steps of obedience are evidence of eternity entering the human heart. As we obey the Lord, life in Christ becomes clearer and compelling.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”