A Heart for the Kingdom(Matt 18 1-4)

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Title: A Heart for the Kingdom

Rapport: I love being a parent.  It is difficult at times, but it is also very amusing, rewarding, and life changing.  I am amazed at the trust that my kids place in Amy and I.  One of the things they love me to do is to chunk them on the bed. They fly through the air, land on their back into the 200 pillows Amy keeps on the bed, then they get up and want more.  They don’t think how dangerous that really is and how close they are coming to hitting the wall.  They just enjoy soaring through the air, trusting in daddy to safely launch them onto the bed. 

Kids display those qualities in mankind that slowly fade away as they become adults.  They are qualities that Jesus sought after in those who would enter the kingdom of heaven.  William Barclay summarizes three qualities of children in relation to the kingdom of heaven…

“(i) First and foremost, there is the quality … humility. A child does not wish to push himself forward; rather, he wishes to fade into the background. He does not wish for prominence; he would rather be left in obscurity. It is only as he grows up, and begins to be initiated into a competitive world, with its fierce struggle and scramble for prizes and for first places, that his instinctive humility is left behind.

(ii) There is the child’s dependence. To the child a state of dependence is perfectly natural. He never thinks that he can face life by himself. He is perfectly content to be utterly dependent on those who love him and care for him. If men would accept the fact of their dependence on God, a new strength and a new peace would enter their lives.

(iii) There is the child’s trust. The child is instinctively dependent, and just as instinctively he trusts his parents that his needs will be met. When we are children, we cannot buy our own food or our own clothes, or maintain our own home; yet we never doubt that we will be clothed and fed, and that there will be shelter and warmth and comfort waiting for us when we come home. When we are children we set out on a journey with no means of paying the fare, and with no idea of how to get to our journey’s end, and yet it never enters our heads to doubt that our parents will bring us safely there.”

This brings us to our text today found in Matthew 18 where Jesus uses the child as an illustration to teach his disciples about those entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Reading: Matthew 18:1-4


Review: As we look in the background of this passage, we see that Jesus and his disciples were in Galilee and nearing Capernaum.  In Mark 9:33-37, we see on their journey the disciples were arguing amongst each other and Jesus questions them about their disagreement.  Luke tells us in the parallel account that they were arguing about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom.  This discussion followed the discovery of Jesus eminent death on the cross and so naturally their flesh lead them to think selfishly of their own status in the future kingdom.  There idea of the future kingdom and Jesus’ idea of the future kingdom were very different. 

The disciples believed that Jesus would restore the nation of Israel as prominent among the nations.  No longer would they ruled by the Romans but they would rule.  So you can understand that their concern was, “where is my territory going to be” “who will I be in charge of.”  All was selfishly driven thinking.  Jesus on the other hand had a different kingdom in mind.  He was thinking of a spiritual kingdom “of those who were saved from sin through faith in Jesus.  It was for all people, not just the people of Israel and it was to develop over time as God, through the preaching of the gospel and power of the Holy Spirit, brought individuals to faith”(Boice 376). 

So Jesus turned the table on their question.  He turned a question about who of the disciples would be the greatest in the kingdom, to a thinking of who of the disciples would be worthy to enter the kingdom at all. 

Relevance:  Can we relate to the disciples in this dispute?  Can you see the human nature coming out in the disciples?  They were excited.  Their leader was making some radical things happen.  Healing people!  Humiliating the legalistic Pharisees on every word they spoke.  I imagine they were amazed that Jesus had chosen them.  But they lost sight of their leader.  They stopped looking to Jesus and started looking at themselves.  What can this kingdom do for me?  How can I benefit from this position? 

We ask those questions all the time.  How can I benefit from this worship service?  What can the church do for me?  How can the church glorify me as a leader instead of servant?  And  if individuals are asking these selfish questions and these people make up the church, then the church as a whole focuses on pampering themselves, instead of expanding the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.  Instead of Missions, churches form recreation teams.  Instead of Evangelism, churches build buildings to adorn.  Instead of Meeting Needs in the community, they only build their own empire. 

Jesus had to bring them down to earth before he could allow them into Heaven.  He had to reintroduce a topic he had already covered.  Humility!  He did so with the basics of the heart for Kingdom people.  That is was we are going to focus on tonight.  BIG IDEA: Entering the Kingdom of Heaven requires Kingdom Hearts.  The question is what makes up a heart worthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  This text gives us 2 components of Kingdom Hearts. 

1.   A Heart that Repents


WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE SIN. To enter into the Kingdom of Heaven we must first have a heart willing to see the sin in our lives.  People are willing to say that they have sin, but then they want to create their own god who will lovingly overlook that sin and place allow them into heaven. 


Isaiah 59:1-4 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.



Matthew uses the Greek word Strepho which means to turn or change direction. 

Acts 13:46- Paul and Barnabas change direction with gospel toward Gentiles

Matthew 9:22- Jesus touched by the woman who bled for 12 years, turned around and granted her healing. 

Used many times in the gospels as Jesus was walking with a multitude following, he would turn and teach them. 

Rev. 11:6- turning water into blood

REPENTANCE IS IMMEDIATE AND COMPLETE.  Turning from your sin means that we see our sin as disobedience against all mighty God, so we strike that sin from our lives.  How do we do that?  Jesus gave an illustration :

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

Psalm 51- David repents of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.

                                                            i.      Praise- v.1-2

                                                        ii.      Pentitence v. 3-6

                                                     iii.      Petition v. 7- 12

                                                      iv.      Promise v. 13-19


I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.


2.   A Heart that is Humble



Jesus used the illustration as a child to bring out the point of humility.  Notice how the child that Jesus summons to himself, immediately comes to Jesus.  That is humility- no resistance, total trust. 

“The most powerless members of ancient society were little children; in most of ancient society, age increased one’s social status and authority. In Jewish culture, children were loved, not despised; but the point is that they had no status apart from that love, and no power or privileges apart from what they received as total dependents on their parents.


Churches that are full of humble people is going to be a growing, healthy church.  Why? 

·       Humble people do not argue and fight against one another but instead would rather allow the other person to win the argument. 

·       Humble people do not gossip about others faults because they know that their own faults are greater. 

·       Humble people do not respond when they are mistreated because they know that persecution leads to spiritual maturity. Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:10- Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (11-16)- At the consecration of the temple that Solomon built, God gives Solomon detailed instruction about the purpose of the temple.  It is a house of prayer where He will dwell.  God will bless and forgive those who “humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord and in his palace. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

Isaiah 66:1-2- God does not reside in a temple made with hands like in the OT but in the hearts of those who are humble and contrite in spirit. 


“Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

James 4:6-10- Notice the words that reflect humility in this passage.


But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.


The components of a heart headed for the Kingdom of God is one willing to repent and be humble before all mighty God.  You may have friends who you have witnessed to and you cannot convince them that they need Jesus.  Keep trying but know that until they are willing to repent and be humble before God, they will not be saved.  Maybe tonight, you are trying to save yourself, you cannot.  Humility is making yourself low before someone else.  That someone else would be almighty God.  You are bowed before Him knowing that your sin has separated you from God.  You must be willing to turn from that sin and give your life to God through his son, Jesus Christ.  The kingdom of heaven is not about you being great but it is about you bowing before the one is who Great-Jesus. 

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