"Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash; licensed under CC0.
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Who Is the Greatest?
Matthew 18:1-9 Commentary
by Warren Carter
A focus on Jesus’ identity in Matthew 17 now gives way to the identity of Jesus-followers.
Matthew 18 is commonly and appropriately identified as the “community discourse” because of its attention to the identity of and interactions among Jesus-followers.
The emphasis on communal relationships and identity is important for the way of the cross that Jesus’ followers are to live (Matthew 16:24). As these verses elucidate, the way of the cross counters some dominant cultural values. It requires resocialization. Preachers might address several related issues: the reframing of greatness; the image of the child; the instruction about self-maiming and self-disabling.
What is greatness?
The disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest in the reign/empire of the heavens (Matthew 18:1). The sermon might trace out how this question arises.
| Bible Text
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
2020-21 Worship Resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 352: Who Is the Greatest?
March 06, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 18:1-9, the Narrative Lectionary readings for March 6, 2019 (Who Is the Greatest) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.