“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
Who is great in God’s eyes? Jesus sets up a little child as his answer. Mind you, childhood back in those days was a condition not to be desired by any adult, and Jesus points to the child not as a winsome example of how charming and simple we’re supposed to be, but rather how lowly.
When it came to the social ladder, children were losers. In the disciples’ eyes, they didn’t even qualify for the first rung. Yet if we want to follow Jesus, we must be like children–lacking rights, needing instruction, and enjoying little-to-no respect.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus exalts losers. Whether highlighting children, or hobnobbing with prostitutes and tax collectors, Jesus rubs the salt of lostness into the sensibilities of those who are preoccupied with the sweetness of their successes.
Jesus lifts up the last. The least. The lost. The little. And even the dead. He drives home that he will not reward the rewardable or improve the improvable. His grace is reserved or those who, like a little child, see themselves as… little. Who is great in God’s eyes? Whoever humbles himself like such a child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Malcolm Muggeridge said, “Jesus is not a prophet to the winners but to losers, proclaiming that the last shall be first, the weak, strong, and the fools, wise. It is the lowly, not the proud, who shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”
When I see a child today, Lord, help me to see who you want me to be.