33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
This is a kingdom of heaven reference, dealing with the Great Tribulation to come and with the physical kingdom of Christ on earth after He returns. The kingdom of heaven reference is stated specifically at another time in Matthew. Remember, Jesus is talking to beard wearing, pork abstaining, Sabbath observing, temple going Jews, who are not born again by believing in His resurrection, which hasn’t taken place yet.
Matthew 18:1 ¶ At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
A spiritual application to Christians in the Church Age would be quite obvious. Remember, any verse from any dispensation that does not contradict the Church Age letters is doctrinal for us. Otherwise, it is in type for us, an allegorical application is necessary. Remember what I have said about the verses about invading the land of Canaan and how you aren’t called to kill anyone for God, however, you do have sins that are squatters in the Promised Land that God has given to you.
So, that any preacher applying these verses to you is not wrong. But, if he were to say that you get into heaven by receiving a child in Christ’s name, he would be in error; that if you received a child in Christ’s name you received Christ.
We are to humble ourselves like a little child is humble by virtue of his or her weakness and inability to comprehend great things. Christ prefers in us the simplicity, the simple trust of a child. With the way Christ views children would it surprise us, I wonder, if we are all children in heaven? The answer to who would be the greatest is who would be the most trusting of Christ in simplicity and without guile, like a child.
Another lesson on children is coming up in chapter ten.
In addition, there are few greater ministries than caring for children and teaching them the word of God. A Christian is given children for a purpose that a heathen is not, to teach and instruct, to raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If you are neglecting that don’t be surprised if God doesn’t take your child away. There are many ways to lose a child, but one of the most disheartening is to lose them to the world. When they adopt the self-destructive passions, the vile entertainments, the vain ambitions, and the empty values of the world you know you have truly failed.