Read Matthew 18.
Matthew 18 open by telling us that the disciples have asked Jesus a question: “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (v. 1).
There are no dumb questions because only people can be dumb; questions cannot. But this question came close to being a dumb one.
It was so foolish and backward that Christ didn’t even try to answer it. Instead, he reframed the issue.
As the disciples stood there in a circle waiting for his answer, Christ called a child over and put that child in the middle of the circle. Then he told them, you won’t even get IN to the kingdom of heaven unless you lower your estimation of yourself spiritually to the level of a child (vv. 3-4).
Why was a child a good object lesson for true faith that saves?
A child is completely dependent on his/her parents. Our kids need us to provide them with food and shelter, they need us to tell them when to go to bed and when to get up. They need us to teach them (or put them where they will be taught) about language and math and science but also about how to tie their shoes. Although children can be skeptical and argue with us at times, for the most part they believe that their parents are a trustworthy source of information that is necessary to life.
Did Peter believe he was the greatest disciple? Andrew? John? Judas?
What a joke; the only one who can be called great in heaven is God. The rest of us depend completely on him for everything, starting with the right to enter heaven in the first place.
And, to advance in the kingdom of heaven, we must maintain a childlike spirit of trust and dependence on God along with a healthy sense of our own weakness and inadequacy before our perfect creator.