Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus answers the disciples question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" by calling a child to himself to illustrate the answer to their question. Jesus answers the question in two parts. The first part of His answer concerns entry into the kingdom of heaven. The second part of His answer states the qualities of who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Part One: A person must become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. A child knows his/her need of parents. A child wants to know mom or dad is available to him and gets very fearful if he doesn't know where his parents are. We are like a child if we know our need of Jesus. The law diagnoses sin (the ten commandments are part of the law. See Romans 7:7,13). Jesus cures sin (Colossians 2:13-14). If we don't acknowledge our sin, we won't know we need Jesus and won't come to Him. In Luke 7:29-30 we learn that the people baptized in John's baptism (baptism of repentance of sin or acknowledgement of sin) knew God was just in judging them because they were sinful. They knew they needed to be made righteous and so believed the gospel. The people who didn't get baptized by John didn't acknowledge their sin and didn't see their need for the gospel offered by Jesus. We must know our need of Jesus like a child knows his/her need of parents if we are to believe the gospel and enter the kingdom of heaven.
Part Two: A person must become like a child to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said we must humble ourselves like a child to be greatest. A child acknowledges his/her need of help and receives it. A child imitates his/her parents and becomes like them. A child demonstrates humility by acknowledging his need of help and by being willing to imitate his parents. When we acknowledge our need of Jesus' help and imitate Him we are greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Have you acknowledged your need of Jesus? Are you willing to imitate Him? You are on your way to being greatest in the kingdom of heaven.