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Welcome to Refinery Life Australia.

This week continue our series titled “Personal portraits of Peter”.

These messages will contain lessons that can help each of us daily.

Today we are talking about Peter’s Lesson on Humility.


Matthew 18:4 (AMP)

4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Scripture Reading.

Matthew 18:1-10, Mark 9:33-37, and Luke 9:46-48.


Jesus’ experience with His disciples at Caesarea Philippi marked a distinct turning point in His ministry.

He was obviously pleased with Peter’s confession of faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God in Matthew 16:16, and looked forward to the continued, triumphant growth of His church.

He pressed onward in His plan to provide salvation for humankind by preparing His disciples for His approaching death at Jerusalem.

His transfiguration one week later was also a step in the disciples’ preparation for His death and resurrection.

Following the transfiguration, as the disciples travelled to Capernaum, they argued among themselves to which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Scripture informs us that Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts.

Mark 9:33-34 (AMP)

33 They arrived at Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you discussing and arguing about on the road?”

34 But they kept quiet, because on the road they had discussed and debated with one another which one [of them] was the greatest.

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Matthew 18:1 (AMP)

Rank in the Kingdom

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

This is the question, after some delay and embarrassment, the disciples finally asked.

Causes for the question.

This must be conjecture, but Andrew and John were the first to become disciples.

Peter, James, and John formed an inner circle with special closeness to Jesus.

Perhaps Judas had a claim as the treasurer.

There is no evidence that Jesus’ words to Peter at Caesarea Philippi entered into this discussion.

2. The disciples had a secular, perverted view of the nature of the kingdom of God.

They still held this view after Peter was rebuked for it at Caesarea Philippi and after the transfiguration.

They would continue to hold this view until after Pentecost.

Just prior to the ascension, the disciples asked Jesus, Acts 1:6 (AMP)

6 So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?”

B. If we were not so spiritually sluggish, we might think them stupid.

If we were not so jealous of each other, we might criticise them severely.

2. The answer: An objective lesson in humility.

Matthew 18:2 (AMP) 2 He called a little child and set him before them,

According to Mark 9:36, Jesus took him into His arms.

He was probably Peter’s little boy or Andrew’s, since Jesus was in their home.

There is something peculiarly tender about Jesus holding a little boy on His lap.

He cared for children.

With the child in His arms, Jesus said in, Matthew 18:3-4 (AMP)

3 and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

B. By this object lesson Jesus rebuked the self seeking of the disciples and affirmed the essential qualifications of the kingdom person and of true greatness.

He did not say that one had to be a child to be saved, and He certainly did not say that one must be childish.

He did say that disciples must be child like in humility.

What are the characteristics of a child, as compared to an unregenerate adult, that the Master praises?

The child usually trust his parents and is willing to be taught by them.

As compared to an adult, a child is not self seeking.

It would be commendable for the disciples to accept their Master and believe that He will do what is best for them.

The condition of entering the kingdom is a right heart attitude.

2. Readiness to forgive is suggested in Matthew 18:6-10.

As compared with an adult, a child is slow to take offence and does not hold grudges.

Other qualities inferred from the nature of the child as compared with an adult might be confiding, trust, teachableness, democratic spirit, and loyalty.

3. The difficult lesson to be repeated.

James and John asked for the first places in the kingdom in Matthew 20:20-28 and Mark 10:32-45.
A few weeks after the object lesson of the child, Jesus was leading His disciples through Perea on the way to Jerusalem.

He was telling them that He would be crucified there.

The thoughts of the disciples were on selfish ambitions.

Salome, the mother of James and John, came with them to Jesus and requested, Matthew 20:21 (AMP)

21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit [in positions of honor and authority] one on Your right and one on Your left.”

Jesus did not rebuke them.

Speaking of His death, He did ask them, however, Matthew 20:22 (AMP)

22 But Jesus replied, “You do not realize what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup [of suffering] that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We are able.”

James did go to death and John to exile for Jesus.

Our Lord explained to them that in the kingdom of heaven there are no favourites.

Greatness will be on the basis of faithfulness and service.

Matthew 20:26 (AMP)
26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,

James and John may be first and second in the kingdom of God.

However, they will not be there because of favouritism but because of faithfulness and service.

B. The disciples did not learn that lesson.

The contention continued in the upper room on the night Jesus established the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus showed them what faithfulness and service was by washing their feet in John 13:1-17.


The door of the kingdom of heaven is closed to those who do not turn and humble themselves.

It is open to all who do.

Jesus is the example, He is the Servant of God foretold by Isaiah.

Jesus encourages us to serve in His name, look at Matthew 20:28 (AMP)

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [paying the price to set them free from the penalty of sin].”

Humility is the willingness to put God first and to serve others in accord with His will.

Let us read Philippians 2:5-11 (AMP) reverently together,

5 Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility],

6 who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it];

7 but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].

8 After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.

9 For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.

Until next time

Stay in the Blessings

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Gary Hoban

Refinery Life Church Australia