By: Dennis Pierce
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18
A. Matthew 18 begins with the question. “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
B. The narrative continues throughout the chapter with Jesus speaking in all 35 verses, except for one verse, where Peter raises a question about how often forgiveness would be required.
C. Mark 9:33-48 records a parallel account of this discussion.
D. The word, “verily,” is expressed by Jesus three times in Matthew 18, to call attention to the truth about greatness in the kingdom of heaven. (vs. 3,13 and 18)
I. Conversion is a first step toward greatness in the kingdom of heaven. (vs. 2-5)
A. Change will be necessary. (vs. 3) “Assuredly, I say to you…”
1. There is no option in the matter. (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38)
2. If we fail to turn our life around we will not even be in the Kingdom of Heaven.
B. Change that repentance requires may be very difficult.
1. People come to the door of the kingdom with diverse backgrounds.
2. Often people are resistant to change.
3. The difficulty of change can be minimized by our attitude.
4. Conversion does not allow living like the world! (1 Timothy 6:6)
C. Become like little children. (vs. 4-5)
1. Many characteristics of children remind us of what we should be as God’s children.
2. Jesus points out that humility like a child is the key to greatness in the kingdom of heaven.
II. Understanding the value of souls is a characteristic of greatness in the kingdom of heaven. (vs. 6-14)
A. Severe consequences follow behavior that causes others to sin. (vs. 6-7)
B. Anything that causes sin must be removed. (vs. 8-9)
C. Finding one lost soul is God’s will for rejoicing. (vs. 12-14) “assuredly, I say to you…”
III. Following heavens rules for harmony leads to greatness in the kingdom of heaven. (vs. 15-35)
A. Sin that disrupts harmony in the church must be dealt with. (vs. 15-17)
B. God will be with us when following His formula for peace in the church. (vs. 18-19) “Assuredly, I say to you…”
C. Forgiveness is the way to peace. (vs. 21-35)
True greatness is found in service. Matthew 20:26, “… whosoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”