Human beings as a species we are obsessed with dominion and power. Ranks are everywhere and people’s entire lives are spent in achieving the highest of rank or recognition that his/her discipline has to offer. Because on this earth we learn at a tender age that as you ascend to a higher status of authority comes everything else good for free at the expense of others. This is the concept of greatness according to this world defined for you.
It is with a more or less similar concept of what consists of greatness that the disciples in Matthew 18:1 “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” What a surprise that has been theirs when Jesus called up a child of all things present in their scenery as a paragon of greatness. “Who shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (verse 4). What a totally upside-down concept for an upside-down Kingdom! In heaven, “Before honour is humility”.
In Matthew 23, Jesus denounces the Pharisees’ way of leadership. “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne…BUT they themselves will not move a finger.” The authority of the time completely fulfilled the worldly concept of authority; that is, the top reaps all the benefits and the bottom gets all the works. Jesus then said in a powerful resounding statement that will reverberate throughout the ages so much it is deep, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”verse11. This Jesus has demonstrated throughout His whole earthly ministry even to the end. In heaven, the greatest is the servant.
In heaven still, also the upside-down Kingdom, in order to register a win one has to embrace a loss. A story is told in Mark 10:17-31 of a Rich young ruler, exactly how young we are not told and exactly how rich we not told, that went to see the so-called Jesus who was very famous at this point and ask a question “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the answer was not good, “…Sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (verse 21). The kingdom of heaven requires us to lose in order to win. To lose all that we have not only the bad such as sinful habits but also things that are in themselves benign but could easily be our idols such as wealth and material possessions, human affections and social ties that are not leading to a good end when given priority. “Take up the cross, and follow ME,” says the Master to whoever wishes to enter that kingdom. In a world that preaches ‘The winner takes it all’ be ready to sacrifice, to lose everything for the kingdom for that kingdom requires us to lose in order to win and Jesus, our Example forever, lost EVERYTHING in order to win EVERYTHING at the cross.
It would be useless by now to emphasize how out of this world, this kingdom is. This surely shouldn’t come as a surprise since the KING of this Kingdom is “the Lord He is God; there is none else beside Him.” and His ways are not our ways. Deuteronomy 4:35; Isaiah 55:8. Let us come to this kingdom now and really know the difference in principle and in reality. The Door is open; the Door being Christ Jesus the Risen King now at the right hand of His Father.