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Matthew 18:1-14

Greatness Gods Way

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 31, 2019

What makes a person great? There are two views of greatness which are diametrically opposed to one another; the world’s way and God’s way. We will look at both views of greatness and discover how they differ and why they differ. Along the way, we will learn life-transforming principles from Jesus regarding Greatness God’s Way!

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Greatness God’s Way

Matthew 18:1-14

ILLUS – Picking teams in school

1.What makes a person great?

2.There are two views of greatness which are diametrically opposed to one another; the world’s way and God’s way.

3.Tonight, we will look at both views of greatness and discover how they differ and why they differ.

4.Along the way, we will learn life-transforming principles from Jesus regarding Greatness God’s Way!

Matthew 18:1-14

Context

1.In Matthew 17, we’re told that Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain where He was transfigured before them, “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (17:2)

2.Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and they discussed the work that Jesus would accomplish through His death and resurrection in Jerusalem. (Luke 9:31)

3.Imagine how Peter, James, and John must have felt after the Transfiguration. The glory of Jesus unveiled, a sneak preview of what is to come when Jesus, the King of glory, returns to establish His glorious kingdom!

4.But their wonder quickly turned to alarm when they saw a problem with the other nine apostles in the valley below!

5.The nine apostles who were left behind were surrounded by a large crowd and “some scribes” were “arguing with them”. (Mark 9:14) 

6.As Jesus approached them, a desperate father suddenly ran up to Him, fell on his knees before Him and said,

“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” (17:14-16) 

7.Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to Him and He cured him immediately.

8.Later, in private, the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to help the boy.

9.Jesus said the reason they were not able to cast out the demon was due to the “littleness” of their faith. (20)

10.Jesus then explained what it means to have a faith that completely rests in God’s ability to move any mountain life may bring.

11. But as we turn to Matthew 18, we learn that the spiritual warfare did not end with the deliverance of the boy for Satan had been working on another scheme, one that would divide Jesus’ twelve apostles.

12. The Satanic seeds had been planted in each apostle’s heart. They wanted to know who was the greatest!

Transition – When it comes to Greatness God’s way, the first principle Jesus taught was…

I. The World’s Way is not God’s Way to Greatness

  • Perhaps things intensified when Jesus only took Peter, James, and John along with Him to the mountain where He was transfigured.
  • One thing is clear when you read all four Gospels, this debate had been going on for quite a while.
  • In fact, James and John eventually got their mother to plead her case as to why her sons should sit at Jesus’ right and left when He came into His kingdom! (Matthew 20:20-21)
  • So, in Matthew 18 they came to Jesus to settle the question. I believe they were expecting Jesus to point to one of them as the greatest, and deep down, each one of them thought they were it!

 

  • But their problem was that they were looking at the idea of greatness the way the world looks at it.
  • They wanted to be great in the eyes of man; they wanted position and power, to be in authority over others.
  • This was all about the motives of the heart and it became an opportunity for Jesus to teach them about God’s heart so that their faith might mature.
  • When Jesus transforms people He transforms their hearts. He takes them from what they once were in the world and makes them new.
  • Why? Because the world’s ways of doing things will not work in the kingdom of heaven.
  • God’s ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our own and He wants to make us walk on higher places.
  • Jesus is committed to transforming our motives, our desires, the way we consider others, and the way we look at ourselves to prepare us for His kingdom.

A. The world’s way considers self before others

1.Jesus had told them several times before that He must suffer many things by the leaders in Jerusalem and that He would be killed.

2.Sadly, the apostles didn’t seem concerned at this point with what will happen to Jesus but were more concerned about who will be the greatest!

APPL – When we look out for our own personal interests, we become oblivious to the needs of those around us.

Philippians 2:4-5, … do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus

ILLUS – Why do we have so many services, groups, events, and meals at Calvary?

1 Corinthians 9:19-23, For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

B.The world’s way seeks to “lord it over” others

1.Today, there are seminars and conferences that will teach you how to achieve power seats, wear power ties, and have power lunches.

2.The Bible makes it clear that the Lord is not pleased with those who seek to “lord it over” others to promote self!

3.Jesus declared that this is the way the world is, but it is not the way it should be among His disciples.

Mark 10:42-43, Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant”

APPL – The root of this worldly mindset is pride! But what is pride?

 

C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride… it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature… Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking that others.”

  • It is for these reasons that the Bible says that God resists the proud, in fact, so does everyone else!

James 4:6-7, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Proverbs 13:10, Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (NIV)

  • The problem is that in the world, you can get more done by being bossy, dominant, and abusive!

II. Humility is God’s Way to Greatness

  • In order to answer their question, Jesus called a little boy to Himself. Mark’s Gospel tells us that He put His arms around the child. (Mark 9:36)
  • Jesus then said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (3)
  • Jesus continued, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (4)

A.God wants us to have the heart of a child

1.Jesus was referring to the heart of a child, the humility of a child, and the honest simplicity of faith that you see in children.

ILUS – The reality of Malina’s faith as seen in her prayers.

2.Jesus was not asking us to be childish, immature, and filled with petty bickering! He was referring to the fact that children were considered the least in that culture, they were to be “seen and not heard”.

ILLUS – If Jesus would have asked the apostles to organize everyone there according to greatness…

3.But Jesus rejected that view and declared that the opposite was true when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. In fact, the verses that follow make it clear about God’s love for children and by application, us, His children.

4.“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me”. (5) But the opposite is also true!

5.Jesus also said, “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.” (6)

APPL – Notice in verse 10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

  • He loves you like a father!
  • Jesus said that you cannot even enter the kingdom of heaven unless you are converted and become like children. There is a simple faith, trusting wholeheartedly in God, that He asks of each of us!
  • When we receive this offer of life, we are born-again, adopted into His family as sons and daughters.

Romans 8:15, For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

  • Because of His great love for us, God is offended by anything that causes us to stumble.
  • That is why Jesus said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you” (8)
  • Now, it’s very important to emphasize that Jesus was using figurative language here. When Jesus spoke of our hand, foot, or eye, He was referring to a spiritual truth beyond the physical realm.
  • Jesus was not asking you or I to literally cut off a hand or foot. Your hand, foot, or eye doesn’t cause you to stumble.
  • What we do with our hands, feet, or eyes is due to what is happening in our hearts. How will you cast that away from you?

James 1:14-16, But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

  • So, Jesus was saying that if there is anything in your life that is causing you to stumble, you need to get rid of it because God loves you even more than you love yourself and He knows how much it is truly hurting

B. God wants to us to have the heart of a servant 

1.Why is this true? Because that is what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 20:27-28, … and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

2.In the world, greatness is often measured by how many people serve you. But in the kingdom of heaven, the opposite is true.

ILLUS – Training pastors in Africa about having The Heart of a Servant

3.In the world, when someone falls short, offends, or disappoints, that person is thrown away. But again, that is not God’s way!

APPL – As the church, we must rethink how we perceive the imperfections and offenses in others.

  • Instead of throwing others away, we need to transform, redeem, build up, and edify. Why?
  • Because that’s what God is doing in all of us!
  • Notice verses 11-14, For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

ILLUS – The story of the Prodigal Son is a perfect example of the Father’s heart. (Luke 15:11-32)

Galatians 6:1,Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Conclusion

Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

Matthew 18:1-14    NASB

 

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;6 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.
7“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.11[For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
12“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?13 If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

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