The fourth sermon of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel is found in Matthew 18:1 -19:1. The chapter opens with the disciples asking Jesus this question, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Matthew 18:1. The theme of this message answers that question with four attributes of greatness in God’s eyes. The Greek word mega is the word for “greatest,” and means being first in terms of importance, something that is a priority before something else.
It is interesting that the disciples were thinking in terms of a person compared with other persons, while Jesus answered with attributes of a person. His answer teaches of the powerful attributes of the Kingdom, the mega-attributes of a follower of Christ.
The first of the first is humility, 18:2 – 6. Jesus illustrates humility by placing a child in their midst. The word “humbles himself” is the Greek verb tapinos, and means to view yourself as a servant to others. In the Bible days, children were servants. In our day it seems like they have become the masters. But they were first taught to have mega-respect for elders. It was the priority teaching a child learned. This stands to reason since this is the only way to become a student, to humble yourself, and in so doing, you are in the right state of mind to learn.
Jesus links this to the second mega-attribute of a disciple, which is to choose your teachers, your elders, wisely, 18:6 – 11. Jesus teaches this truth with the image of one who would take advantage of a child. The Bible calls them false teachers. They teach others to sin. The source of this evil is the world, the flesh, and the devil.
False teachers have always been around and are still with us today. And Jesus taught in this passage that my own thoughts, emotions, and bodily desires can become false teachers. This is one of the places where Jesus taught of how our bodily desires can become like control freaks, and must be disciplined to learn their role as servants, not masters.
The third mega-attribute in God’s Kingdom is the activity of bringing others into it. Jesus taught this attribute with the well-known parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd that goes out to find it. Each of these attributes is seen most clearly in the life of Jesus, especially this one. He came to find you, and to bring you back into a right relationship with the Father. When you do this, you are most like Christ, which pleases the Father, giving Him mega-joy, 18:13.
The fourth goes under the heading of being forgiving since you have been forgiven, 18:15 – 35. This is one of the major teachings of Jesus because He came to provide forgiveness and to inaugurate God’s Kingdom on earth as the Kingdom of the Forgiven, whose main activity on earth is to forgive others because they have been forgiven of so much!
The instructions are very clear that when you seek to forgive and reconcile with others, Christ Himself is in your midst to answer your prayers to accomplish this mega-activity. Jesus then gave a stern warning with a parable about a servant who was forgiven a $3 billion debt (10,000 talents = 200,000 years of wages of a laborer), but refused to forgive a $5,000 debt (100 denarii = 100 days salary of a laborer). The consequences of such an action, as Jesus describes, will cause you to shutter, 18:34 – 35.
Today, meditate on the mega-attributes of humility, choosing good teachers, bringing others into the Kingdom, and forgiving others since you have been forgiven of so much. As you do, these mega-attributes of the Life of Jesus, will begin to show up more and more in your life, as your life, which pleases the Father. This is what it means to worship the Father in spirit and truth.