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Ministry of Jesus

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven


Matthew 18:1-9
Mark 9:33-37
Luke 9:46-48

Key Differences

While in Matthew it appears that the disciples ask Jesus a simple question about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Mark and Luke tell us that the question arises from an argument among them.  They were each jockeying for position in Jesus' future kingdom and ultimately wanted to know what to do to gain His favor.

Matthew records Jesus words about the dangers of causing someone to sin.  This idea is reflected later by Paul when he says that not everyone should desire to be a teacher because they bear greater responsibility for their actions.  It is bad enough to sin, but it is far worse to cause someone else to sin, especially someone who innocently does not know any better like a child.

Additional Commentary

Children are upheld as an example because of their blind faith.  A child will trust what they are told by someone in authority.  Later on they will learn that not everyone is completely honest and not everyone is looking out for their best interests.  We are told to believe with childlike faith because we can trust God completely and we can know that He always looks out for our best interests. 

People who are great in the world's eyes rely on their own strength.  People who want to be great in God's eyes must rely on His strength and must therefore make themselves to be the least in the world's eyes.  Christianity is accused of being a crutch for people who are weak.  In this way, it is absolutely true.  The greatest in God's kingdom will acknowledge that they can't do anything without His help and will rely on God as a crutch to get them through life.

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