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Week 3 July 2023, Devotion Part 1

Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4

This child was a little boy who lived in Capernaum and was minding his own business. Perhaps he had wandered away from his mother who was chatting with friends, having eyed a dog that needed petting. Perhaps he picked up a round stone and decided to kick it along. Perhaps he watched grunting men hoist a large millstone onto a creaking cart. Perhaps he observed two parties negotiate the price of a well-muscled donkey.

Jesus had watched him out of the corner of his eye all along, a faint smile curled around his lips. He remembered his own carefree days as a lad and vicariously felt the softness of the drowsy dog’s sun-warmed belly. He had kicked stones for fun and been fascinated by exciting scenes in the town square. One was about to unfold here shortly, but the little boy was not about to pay heed. Loudly talking and laughing women were of no interest to him and neither were quietly arguing men. Twelve of them had formed a circle nearby to chew on a bone of contention. The child was just about to sit with the sleepy dog and join in his contentment when a kind voice called out to him. A stranger stepped forth and gently pulled him into the center of that circle. (Part 1 of 2)

Comment: I wrote this devotion years ago with special pleasure, having allowed my imagination to tell the story from the child’s perspective. I hinted early at the “millstone” shocker by having the boy watch men load one onto a cart, and later not wanting to tell his mom about it. This particular “hard saying” of Jesus begins on a positive note, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Brace for the BUT that sends a chill down the spine, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6). Some might dismiss it as hyperbole, because the friendly Jesus of our western Christianity couldn’t possibly mean for such a draconian business to be carried out. When He drove the demonized swine to drown in deep water, He didn’t hurt people, but allowed them to joke about this culinary introduction to “deviled ham.”

Most likely it can’t be overstated enough that salvation results in sonship with our heavenly Father, which makes even a little girl a “fellow heir with Christ.” Paul wrote, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Three questions are now nagging at me and perhaps occur to you. 1) Do I know of a humble kid today and how could I tell? 2) What kind of humbleness does Jesus expect from me? 3) Have I grasped the enormity of His humility on my behalf? He humbled Himself by trading His throne for a manger. He humbled Himself by allowing critics to belittle Him with a vengeance in public.. He humbled Himself to be “obedient unto death.”


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