Christ Jesus, the long-promised Messiah, preached that the kingdom of God is at hand. What hope that must have ignited in the hearts of a God-loving people oppressed by pagan Rome! Yet at one point Jesus’ disciples asked him who was the greatest in that kingdom, and he pulled the rug out from under that inquiry by placing a little child before them.
“Except ye be converted,” he said, “and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Forget “greatest”—how would they even enter? Their astonishment must have equalled Nicodemus’ when he was told that he had to be born again. Jesus taught that the innocence of a child was greatness. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:4).
What kind of greatness is this? Or maybe the better question is, What kind of kingdom?