A Coin Has Two Sides

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”                Matthew 18:1-6 (NLT, my emphasis)

“Who is the greatest?” I wonder sometimes, as I am reading the gospels, about the expression on Jesus’ face when the disciples asked these questions. And then I remember my own thoughts (“Well, look at him/her! I would never do that! What were they thinking?!”) and wonder if God is rolling His eyes or slamming some heavenly door thinking, “Here We go again with Jody looking at the sawdust in someone’s eye instead of the plank in her own!”

Jesus doesn’t hesitate to bring His lesson home to the disciples. He takes a small child right into the middle of the lesson and the group. Now in this time, children should not be heard but also rarely seen or acknowledged by adults, certainly not when something as important as a conversation about God! Before I move on I’d like to suggest that today we haven’t come much farther in the Church. Oh we have Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and maybe on Mother’s Day we bring the children in the church out to sing a song or handout flowers. Maybe we even have a childrens’ moment in our worship service. How big of us to give them a moment of the worship time that is geared to them!

Jesus ignores the disciples’ wrong question and shocks His listeners by telling them that unless they turn from their sins and become like this child they will not enter Heaven. What??! By their very question, the disciples thought they had the Heaven thing sown up and they had moved on to how big their mansion was going to be or how close to Abraham they were going to live! And that was their sin – P – R – I – D – E! Arrogance!

Jesus isn’t done with His teaching. There is always two sides to Jesus’ teaching coin. There is the positive lesson of what I should do and then there is the warning of the consequences if I choose to disobey.

Jesus repeats a lesson I have heard before. It is the least, the weakest, the children, who are greatest in God’s eyes. It is their simple childlike faith that is so pleasing to our LORD. Those of us who have grown in our relationship with God are charged with the responsibility to teach and protect God’s young children. And if I should cause someone who is young in their relationship with God to stumble by misleading them or tempting them to disobey, then I might as well throw myself off the Three Mile Bridge with a huge stone tied around my neck. As a parent, as a grandparent, even an adult walking in the halls of a church or an aisle at Wal-mart, my witness to my LORD is there for others to observe and learn, for good or bad. A witness also has two sides.

Jesus came to earth because of God’s great love. He promises who ever believes in Him will have eternal life and not be condemned. But if I choose not to believe, if I reject God’s free gift, then I am condemned (John 3:16-21). Jesus is Light and so if I choose to grow and learn from Him then He will shine His Light on my life and my sins will be exposed. Jesus also said, “Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15) He wants me to turn from my sins and live my life in Him. He loves me. One side of the coin. He wants me to turn from sin. The other side of the coin. I cannot have one without the other.

Awesome God written by Rich Mullins and sung by Michael W Smith



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