In Matthew 18:1, the disciples wonder about what kind of seats they would have in the heavenly kingdom. They asked Jesus for His thoughts by asking who is “greatest in the kingdom of heaven”.
To answer their question, Jesus called a child into their midst. Mark mentions in his gospel (Mark 9:36) that Jesus took the child “in his arms”, so I suspect it wasn’t a teenager! It was probably more like a toddler.
Then, very subtly, Jesus changes the question. He doesn’t answer the disciple’s question about “who has the best seats”… but responds by telling them what’s required “to get into” the kingdom. Turns out the disciples had been assuming something that wasn’t the case.
It kinda reminds me of that Bob Uecker beer commercial from the 80’s. In the commercial Bob, a former major league player who playfully refers to himself as “Mr. Baseball”, receives a free ticket from the management to see his former team play a game. He assumes, “I must be in the front row!” But the seating attendant escorts him, instead, to one of the last rows of the upper deck (in case you weren’t paying attention to beer commercials in the 80’s, I’ve included a link HERE for your viewing pleasure).
Poor Bob Uecker… and poor disciples too! They were both assuming something that wasn’t the case.
With the child in his arms, Jesus responds to the disciples by saying, “… unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus often uses children in the gospels as living parables. He gathers them to himself… he gives them priority access… he lifts them in his arms. The dependent nature of children is a great reminder of how people are dependent on God. Children also easily trust those placed in authority over them. Jesus is saying child-like attributes like these are reflective of all people who trust God.
It’s interesting, even today, holding a child in your arms can be a great reminder of Jesus’ ministry to all believers. It’s also good to know, at least in the context of this particular question, everyone has the same seats in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus’ description of all believers having child-like attributes is just one of the items I cover in The Matthew Study video lesson for chapter 18. You can watch the entire lesson below… or preview the other videos and download chapter lessons from The Matthew Study by visiting: THE MATTHEW STUDY VIDEOS page.