The group had recently traveled to Capernaum. During the walk, some of the men must have been in a heated private discussion. After they had arrived at the house and were resting, Jesus asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?”
Nobody dared to answer. In retrospect it had been a petty argument to have held. Now, when the Master wanted to hear about their conversation, the men were too ashamed to admit that they had been debating which one of them should hold the highest position of honor in the next life.
In His usual way, Jesus saw their hesitation. He knew their thoughts, recognized their questions, and even understood their motivations for asking it.
Said He, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” It was a complete change from the way the men typically look at leadership. Kings, Pharaohs, and Emperors enjoyed lives of luxury and wealth. They were served and waited upon, not the other way around. Yet Jesus turned this entire concept around when providing an answer to getting to the top in the Kingdom of Heaven. Men desiring this status must be a humble and willing servant to all others. The race to the top is actually a race to the bottom.
While that one-sentence lesson was still sinking in, Jesus arranged an object lesson. He called a young child nearby, and set him down the group.
He held the child in His arms, and taught, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Not children in understanding, but childlike in the possession of guile. Being incapable of malice or offence. Possessing childlike attributes of submissiveness, meekness, humility, and patience. Not self-consumed, but full of love. Willing to submit with faith to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon you (even as a child doth submit to his father). Trusting that all things shall be done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Then came one more blessing. Those that are willing to change their hearts and minds and live as described above will not only become the “greatest” in the Kingdom of Heaven, but these individuals are the ones that “receiveth me.” The way to show that you truly accept Jesus Christ is to strive to act in this way – in the same way as He lived.
And of course, those whosoever receives Jesus also receives His Father.
See the following references:
New Testament: Matthew 18:1–5 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/18.1-6?lang=eng#1
New Testament: Mark 9:33–37 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/mark/9.33-37?lang=eng#32
New Testament: Luke 9:46–48 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/9.46-48?lang=eng#45
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 14:20 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-cor/14.20?lang=eng#19
Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 2:24 http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2.24?lang=eng#23
Book of Mormon: Mosiah 3:19 http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/3.19?lang=eng#18