Saturday, August 15, 2009

More thoughts 
on asking the right question.
In Matthew 18:1, 
the disciples asked Jesus 
a question:
"Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (NKJV)

They were assuming the greatest spot
would go to one of them, weren't they?

It's dangerous to assume things
in our relationship with Christ.

But they assumed.
After all, the position of prestige in His kingdom
will surely go to one us,
they must have thought.
I mean, we're the Big 12. 
We're the ones who have left all
to follow Him.

And we're the ones He chose!
We're the DISCIPLES.
We've been with Him for three years.
We've walked with Him.
Listened to Him.
Watched the miracles.
Even duplicated some of His miracles—
healed in His name—
and in His power.

Surely, when Jesus sets up His kingdom, 
one of us will be in a really high position
of authority!

But which one of us will it be?

Peter probably assumed it would be him.
After all, He WAS the president of the group.
A natural-born leader.
He was always the first to speak.
The first to act.
He was impulsive.
An extrovert in every sense of the word.
And Jesus did say,
"On you I will build My church.
You're the ROCK, Peter."

And then at another time, 
Jesus even said to Peter, 
"I'm giving you the keys 
to the kingdom of heaven and hell."

And Peter did walk on water.
Surely, underneath Jesus, 
Peter would be the greatest
in God's kingdom.

But wait a sec.
John must have assumed the
position would go to him.

And that made sense. 
Think about it: Who was closest to Christ?
It was John.

Jesus had 12 disciples.
And out of the 12, He was closest to three:
James. John. Peter.

And out of those three, 
He was even closer to one.

And remember the Last Supper?
Who sat right next to Jesus?
And John was so comfortable
in His presence, 
he leaned over and rested his head
on the shoulder of Christ.

So . . . surely . . . if Christ was going to
put someone in as His "vice-president"
it would be John—the one He was 
closest to, right?

But hold on.
James must have felt pretty important as well.
He was one of the "inner three" closest to Christ.
And remember the Mount of Transfiguration incident?
(Jesus, James, John and Peter on a mountain
being visited by Elijah and Moses.)
James hadn't forgotten that.
He was privileged to be a part of that.
Obviously, Jesus trusted him.
So he's thinking, I'm in the running.

But Matthew was a pretty important guy as well.
He left a lucrative business to follow Jesus.
Surely, Christ saw a lot worth admiring in Matthew
or He wouldn't have chosen him.

And the other disciples?
Actually, they were assuming the same thing:
This position of greatness in His kingdom
will probably go to me.

How do we know?
Because right after Mrs. Zebedee
(James and John's mom)
asked Christ if her sons could be
in the two most important positions
in His kingdom (the right and left)
of His throne . . .
the other disciples heard about it.

And Scripture tells us 
"they were INDIGNANT."

They were indignant.
They were furious.
They were livid.

wanted the position of greatness
in Christ's kingdom.

So what do we have here?
Looks like we have 12 amazing
follow Christ.
But 12 amazing disciples
who are full of themselves.

That's what it's all about.
I deserve.
I have a right to . . .

And how does Jesus handle their question?
Matthew 18:2-3 gives us His solemn answer.

"Then Jesus called a little child to Him,
set him in the midst of them,
and said,
'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted 
and become as little children,
you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven.'" (NKJV)

Unless you are CONVERTED?
Hey! These aren't just any people off the street, Jesus!
These are Your disciples.
They've left everything.
What do You mean . . . converted?

You will by NO MEANS enter
the kingdom of heaven?
If You're saying the disciples may not
make it to heaven . . .
what does that say to me?

OK, Girls.
I'm stopping here for now.
I'll give you more later.
But first . . . 
I want to know your thoughts.

Those are two heavy thoughts:
1. Jesus telling the DISCIPLES they had to be CONVERTED.
2. And if they weren't, they'd by no means enter heaven.

So . . . what are you thinking?

Love you!
Susie Shellenberger


  1. Hey Susie!
    If you want to know what I am thinking, then this is it. I am thinking that it is hard to be totally CONVERTED. You really have to comit to be converted, right? If there is no other way to heaven, then how do we know whether we really are converted?

  2. Hmm... Maybe he meant that even if you do a whole bunch of great stuff, even in his name, if you weren't saved, you weren't going to go to heaven. Or put another way... You can never do enough good to outweigh the bad. "For not by works of righteouesness which we have done..."

  3. Ok, wow. I haven't been on here for almost two weeks, and I can't believe how much has happened! I don't think I can even read all of those comments! So, is there anything important that I missed? I read all the posts, just not the comments. Can't wait to talk to all of you again! I have missed you all, lol.

    KK from IA

  4. Hey you guys!
    I believe that Jesus meant that if you want to enter His kingdom, you must take on a different mindset. When I think of a small child,I think of someone who is learning thea ways of life. Maybe Christ wanted us to become kids again and learn about the new ways of the Life He's given us. It's not about all that you have done, but about all that Christ has done. It's not about you anymore. I also think that this mindset also means realizing that you aren't as good as you see yourself to be.

    So many times when we enter leadership roles, we pat ourselves on the back, and think, "Ha! Now I'm in charge! Those people down there must answer to me!" I think that the disciples had this attitude. But rather, Christ was reminding them that we lay our live down for others.

  5. ok the 2 versions "NIV" "NLT" i have of the bible i don't see where it says they have to convert-if you can please let me know why the differance & if this is the same as being humble?
    i tell you unless you change and become little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom.
    matthew 18:2-3"niv"
    I tell you the truth unless you change & become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
    therefore anyone who becomes humble as this little child is the Greatist in the Kingdom.
    Matthew 18:2-4 "NLT"
    is the key precept being humble as a child & innocence of acceptance?
    like little children trusting & unpretentious
    ~Susie~thanx for keeping us thinking! :0)

  6. also here is a cross-referance
    Luke 9:48 "NLT"
    then he said to them,
    "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes my father who sent me whoever is the least among
    you is the greatist."

  7. @Magillicuty - Good point. Maybe it means that if we look at things like grown-ups, we'll miss something because we know everything, but if we look at things like a child looks at things, we'll see little things others don't notice, because children are learning, and they see evrey detail.

  8. I think that when he said we had to be converted, and become like the little children, he meant that we had to have totally trusting faith. Cuz think about a little kid; they have faith in their parents that they will take care of them, that they'll provide food and clothes. Little kids seem to think that their parents are invincable. I think that's how God wants us to be, totally trusting in him for everything. He really is invincable! :)
    I agree with everyone else, too!

  9. Hi, Girls!
    You're really thinking on this one, and I LOVE it!
    I specifically chose the New King James Version on this, BECAUSE of the way it's worded. So keep thinking about it in this way.
    Isn't it fun to talk about spiritual things? It challenges us! It's "iron sharpening iron." I'll post my continuing thoughts on this on Wed., Aug. 19.

  10. Sometimes we follow with out having our whole heart in it. I think that maybe the diciples were following Jesus and doing what he told them to do because they liked His company. They didn't really "believe" in Him. So Jesus was saying you have to really BELIEVE, to come into the kingdom of heaven.
    Just a thought.


  11. One word: whoa...

  12. I think when Jesus said "converted" I think he meant to be like a child, in having faith like a child, but also by "running the race." when a kid is doing something like playing a game with their friends, it doesn't matter who wins and loses because they just want to have fun and accomplish something together. So I think Jesus was telling the disciples that, like a child, they should know that it doesn't matter who gets what in heaven, as long as they make it there together.

    And if Jesus told his followers that even they might not make it to heaven, the people closest to him, that says that it doesn't really matter how much Jesus loves us, if we don't accept him and we don't have faith, we can't make it to heaven. Jesus did his part, now we have to do our part.


  13. WOW! You girls are posting some incredible thoughts! Keep them coming!

    Susie Shellenberger

  14. Well I think maybe they shouldn't think about who is more important. Answering the converting question-They should surrender all to God and not worry about who's closest to God because in God's eyes we are all equal.
    He loves and thinks we all are special in the same way.

  15. What I think is, think of a little child. As a child you are pretty vulnerable and you need people like your parents to guide you through and help you become more wise. Children are also very dependent on their parents. So Jesus probably was saying to enter the Kingdom you need to be re-born, become a child of God. Learn through new eyes and depend on God in all things.

    Thanks for the great questions Susie!


  16. Another thing you can learn from this is don't assume things because God works in ways we may not expect.

  17. I just found this blog today and I read this and I was thinking that the disciples were each thinking only of themselves. Salvation does NOT come from ourselves at all. Nothing we can do can save us! So maybe Jesus meant that the disciples needed to convert their focus from themselves to God. I don't know maybe I'm way off. Like I said I haven't read much because I just found this today but those are some of my thoughts.

  18. I love being able to discuss things and talk about what we think about different verses!

  19. Wow I haven't read any comments in forever, the start of school has been so hectic!!

    Here's what I'm thinking Susie...
    Sometimes I do think about if I'm not doing enough to get into Heaven. But then I realize that the question I should be asking is for Jesus to point out anything that comes between Him and I, so that I can become more like Him everyday!!

    ~~Meg ♥♥♥

  20. Maybe he meant that they had to be converted from Jews to Christians. Because Jesus hadn't died yet, they were Jews and he hadn't yet sacrificed himself to save their sins. Maybe he meant that they had to become Christians, and by becoming Christians, humble themselves by accepting that there is nothing they can do to save themselves (as someone already said). They had to believe in Jesus as the sacrifice that has saved us all.
    Thank you Lord Jesus! :)

  21. hmm yes i believe that is true -maybe they wern't "Christians" Following as Deciples of Christ, just by assuming they would be true believers before the sacrifice.
    Good Point.. it's got me thinking.
    wow does the bible talk about the disciples converting to christ or did they remain jews even before his sacrifice?-
    ~MaGiLiCuTtY ?????

  22. "Flowers Fade skys turn gray...
    God's Love will never Fade or turn away,
    We thank Him Every Day, in our very own Special Way!"
    -written by L.C

  23. Jesus DID say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But the same is true, I think, for an un-converted person. And the Bible also says that earthly deeds will do no good in the way of getting people into heaven. And that's exactly what the disciples were thinking: "We are, after all, His disciples; we DESERVE to go to heaven and be the greatest." And Jesus is like, "Uh...nice try. But you have to be converted and believe that you need me, etc. first."

    ~Emily Sue

  24. To tell you the truth I don't really know the answer to this but than reading all the responses I totally agree and it makes sense!!
    I am glad we get to talk about all of this together.

  25. You guys,
    Check out my blog at
    Or you can just click on my name.

    <3 Michelle <3

  26. Wow, really makes me think! I mean, I sometimes get this holier-than-thou attitude b/c I go to a public high school. But, really I'm not that much better, not even that different really. A bumper sticker I saw once said, "Christians aren't better, just saved" I totally agree with that. I mean, that's what being a christian is all about, right? God calls us to be more like his son. And the root word of Christians is...CHRIST. -Bethany

  27. Ashely M....That's great...what you said about looking at things through the eyes of a child, rather than an adult.


  28. Hi Susie!
    I really like your little "blog bible study" :)
    But can I correct you on one thing? When Jesus was talking to Peter about the rock, I don't believe He was actually saying that He would build His church on Peter. The Catholic church holds that to be when Jesus ordained Peter as the first "pope", but that's not how the original Greek puts it. Let me quote from Halley's Bible Handbook:

    "Verse 18 is the theme of a famous controversy. (...) The Greek text runs literally: "Thou art Pertos and uponthis 'petra' I will build my church." The word Petros means a small stone. In Liddell and Scott's Greek lexicon the word is quoted as applied to sling-stones and boundary-stones (...). Even boundary stones are not too big for one man to lift and move. On the other hand the lexicon 'petra' as as applied to Mt. Olympus and the Caucasus. (...) Grek and Latin often use "and" for "but" (e.g. "Be angry and sin not") and the meaning of the passage is clear. The Lord says, "You are Peter, and any man can lift you, but the faith you have expressed in My deity is a rock immovable as the mountains. On it I will build My church.""

    Intresting, isn't it? I just wanted to point that out to you. :)
    God bless!