A Little Child

Matthew 18:1  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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The Lord's reply to the question asked in Matt. 18:11At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 18:1), "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" is full of practical instruction for us in these last days when lukewarmness is everywhere prevalent. In the preceding chapter there had been given them a glimpse of the "Son of man" coming in His kingdom-a little foreshadowing of His glories which, as Son of man, are yet to come. Would one who gazed thereon seek to place any being on an equality with Him? Yes, but no sooner was the proposal made than the voice of the Father was heard interrupting the vain desire. "This is MY BELOVED SON, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye HIM." From the excellent glory He is thus declared beyond comparison, glorious and beloved, the center of all, greatest and highest. Thus Peter's voice was hushed; and though there with Him and the eyewitness of His majesty, as he afterward declares, yet He is God's Center, the only One who in Himself has title to be there. In the day of the manifestation of that glory, we who believe will be with Him too, our voices hushed in the contemplation of Him who is God's Center-a day which will see the fulfillment of His prayer in John 171These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (John 17:1): "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
Descending from the glory where they had heard the testimony of the Father as to the Son of His bosom, they asked the question already quoted, Which of us shall be next to Him? And what a reply comes from those gracious lips-a reply for each heart to weigh the import of then, and a lesson for us to ponder still. Does He deny that there is such a place? Does He assert that we shall be all equal in that day? No, He does neither; but, exposing by contrast their love of self with what will be the true ground of exaltation, personal love, and devotedness to Himself, He replies, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." We cannot understand a little child humbling itself, because one who is in the place, who is that, needs not to come down to it; for already he is a little child. The Lord's words are rather, You must become as this little child if you desire the highest place in the day of My kingdom glory. This expression of infant helplessness, a "little child," is the same as the Apostle John delights to use in his first epistle, chapter 2, when distinguishing "fathers," "young men," and "little children" (babes). This is the word he uses in verses 13 and 18. It describes the infant, the youngest in the household.
Such is the attainment, my reader, which the Lord Jesus proposes to each of us to aim at and to reach-a "little child." Do we ask why? It is because we are not in heart and spirit, and ways and affection, such; the disciples betrayed it in their question; and do we not betray it in ourselves day by day? May I then draw your attention to two or three things seen prominently in the model before us, seen in a "little child"?
Watch him in the nursery (picture of this world wherein we grow up, and where the child of God now is); not a fear, not an anxiety, not a care has he! Dependent for food, and shelter, and raiment, and everything he wants or possesses, on another, while in himself without plan, or thought, or resources, and with no ability to make his wants known save to one who alone can understand the baby language that he speaks-such is our model. Is he happy? Generally he is. (Sometimes he may be neglected by human hands and have cause to fret. Our God never forgets or neglects His own.) But while his feebleness is thus before us, we must remember that he has a consciousness, young as he is -a consciousness that only deepens and increases with the lapse of years-that consciousness is that he is beloved, beloved by one to whom he belongs. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. That person who loves fills the whole range of his vision-a person, my reader, not a place. And is it so today? Is it so with each of us? One, as He walked on this earth, has borne the marks of it. "One thing I do... that I may win Christ, and be found in Him." "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." A Person filled the sphere of Paul's vision. He was beloved, and he knew it. He "loved me, and gave Himself for me." Reader, do you know it? Can you say it? and has it power over you as it had over him?
But the nursery time is passing away with all of us. Let our model, a "little child," be brought then from the nursery into all the light and brilliance of that day of the coming glory for which we wait. Let the assembled company stand back to make way for the approach of a "little child." "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 19:1414But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14). Why amid the brilliant throng does the eye of a little child wander timidly from one to another? Is there not enough in the grandeur of all around to engage his attention? No; the place is naught to him, while all the grandeur and all the dignity do but distress him. He seeks for one whose heart's affections are twined around him, and whose love he has learned and proved; passing by all else, he hastens to the arms and bosom of love.
And thus it shall be in the day of the kingdom glory; and THUS has the "little child" reached the highest place, even the bosom of that One to whom it shall be confessed in that day, that fast-coming day of His glory, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Rev. 5:1212Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12).
Reader, who will occupy the place of the little child? If you occupy it now, He declares you shall occupy it then. O for more of the spirit of a little child!