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Week 4 July 2023, Devotion Part 2

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

Three of the disciples had recently rubbed elbows with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. That was the impression gathered by the nine who had their noses rubbed in the “no-can-do” of dealing with the demon-possessed boy in the valley. Shortly afterward the collectors of the half-shekel tax pestered Peter to get at Jesus. He summoned a fish to give him the money, but clarified that royal sons were exempt from the tribute extracted by earthly kings. Peter and his buddies grasped that Christ’s kingdom conferred on them a superior status; now they argued over the degree they might merit. Jesus promptly rubbed their noses in the problematic residue of their unchanged condition. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn [change] and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

A stony silence settled over the group. Their smiling leader hugged the boy and told him to skip along. He passed the large millstone loaded onto the ox cart and wondered briefly how one would tie such a thing to the neck of a man. Just then his mother called his name and he decided to skip that baffling part of the story he was about to tell her. (Part 2 of 2)

Comment: Capernaum, located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was home to 1,500 inhabitants. However, it was not a sleepy little village, but a main trading town housing a garrison, an administrative center, and a customs station. The disciples who fished at night and cleaned their nets in the morning, should have been the sleepy ones. Instead, they were agitated, but couldn’t meet at Peter’s house. Somewhat ruefully he said that his wife and mother would probably whisper to each other, “What a bunch of big babies!” When John, a very old man then, wrote his three letters to believers, he referred to them repeatedly as “little children.” It was both affectionate and relational in view of their sure salvation and growth in sanctification.

In his gospel, John quoted Jesus as saying to His followers, “Children, have you any fish?” Their answer was “no” and the instruction from the Carpenter of Nazareth to the seasoned fishermen was, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:5-6). In this case the Greek word didn’t refer to family relationship, but to smallness in stature or in faith. The term didn’t belittle, but rather affirmed that growth was possible. In John 1:12 he stated, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…” This power was not the explosive doo’-nam-is of Pentecost, but the ex-oo-see’-ah of executive and dynastic function. Any believing “child,” male or female, would receive the amazing privilege of becoming a divinely royal heir, and along with it the ability to live up to it. Matthew 18


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