June 24, 2021
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:1-6).
This was not a new argument among the disciples. It appears jealousy had been growing in their hearts for quite some time. Peter’s confession regarding Jesus near Mt. Hermon (Matthew 16:17-19) gave Peter a fresh sense of leadership among the disciples, and even an inflated sense of authority over Jesus that he would rebuke the Lord for speaking of His coming death (Matthew16:22).
Peter was also one of three disciples taken by Jesus to Mt. Tabor to witness His transfiguration. James and John were the other two disciples. Again it was Peter who took charge of the situation and suggested the four of them stay on the mountain top indefinitely, excluding the other nine disciples from their fellowship. And most recently the tax-collectors had singled out Peter as the one who represented the group with regard to the requirement of the Temple tax.
In Mark 9:33 Jesus asked the disciples about their dispute on the way into the house, most likely just after their question in Matthew 18:1. Jesus had noticed the dispute, but it wouldn’t be the last time. It will break out again and again (Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 22:24). Clearly Peter’s sole leadership of the disciples had not yet been conceded by the others. After such time and teaching and training of the disciples by Jesus, it is a sad commentary to find them more concerned about their own rank and file in the political kingdom they were expecting rather than in the spiritual Kingdom Jesus offered.
As Jesus demonstrated, the chief problem among the disciples is one of pride. It is the mother of all sins. (Psalm 10:4) The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, "There is no God." (Proverbs 16:18-19) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
There is a difference between the pride God hates (Proverbs 8:13) and the pride we feel about a job well done (Galatians 6:4) or the pride we express over the accomplishment of loved ones (2 Corinthians 7:4). The pride that comes from self-righteousness or conceit is sin because it takes our eyes off of Jesus and focuses on self. Clearly the disciples suffered from this pride.
“Lord Jesus, may You always be the focus of my life and ministry. Help me to always keep You first and foremost in my mind and heart as I seek to honor You in all things. Amen.”