1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
This account also appears in Mark 9:33-50 and Luke 9:46-50.
This talk may have taken place in Peter’s house, and the child may have been a member of Peter’s family, but we aren’t told and so it isn’t important.
Who then is greatest (v.1) — This question reflects the apostles’ confusion after the Lord’s revelation of His approaching death. The kingdom He taught didn’t mesh with their understanding and expectations of what a kingdom should look like — and their lofty roles in it.
converted (v.3) = turn — from their expectations of exalted positions in the kingdom to humility and faith (Matthew 11:11)
become as little children (v.3) — humble, responsive to Christ’s call to come, obedient, trusting, utterly dependent
receive (v.5) = by way of giving hospitality
Their service (v.5) to the King should be service to the humble and meek, not concern for lofty positions.
sin (v.6) = lit. “cause to stumble”
millstone (v.6) = a great stone that had to be turned by a beast of burden
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