Last night one of my grandchildren spent the night with my wife and I. He is a little over three years old and a bundle of energy. It is always a joy when my grandchildren come to stay, even when they wear us out with their constant curiosity and questions. But it reminds me of this section of scripture where the Lord says, “To such belongs the kingdom of God. Let us explore some of the reasons why and how we need to apply this teaching in our own lives.
Access to the Lord
We see the beginning of the parable that people were bringing their infants to Jesus to be blessed by him. The disciples, thinking they were doing the right thing to protect Jesus, rebuked the people. One can only assume that they felt they were protecting Jesus from over work or trying to allow him to rest or whatever. Basically they were trying to shield Jesus from the people.
However we see Jesus reacting quite differently. He told the disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (verse 16) From this we get two important lessons.
The first of these is less obvious than the second. What we see is that the Lord is saying in essence not to put a blocker in the way between the people and himself. There should be no barriers between the people and the Lord. We all have direct access to Jesus. He does not have secretaries to shield him or minders to watch out for him as the VIP’s of this world do. We have direct access at all times.
The second lesson in this is about becoming like a child if we are to receive the kingdom of God. To understand what this means we need to stop and consider what it is about children that the Lord would be talking about in making this statement. So consider the attributes of children, especially young children. Here are a few:
They are like sponges and are curious to learn. They love unconditionally, not strings attached. They do not hold malice or grudges against others when they are hurt. They have faith and trust in their parents to provide for them all that they need and to protect them from harm. They are not proud or arrogant but rather are humble. They have a love for life and do not suffer depression. The bad human attributes have not developed in small children: jealousy, wrath, malice, envy, covetousness, hatred and so on. And there are probably many other things you could think of that are the attributes of a child.
Becoming a Child of God
So Jesus says in this scripture “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” And he continues in the next scripture adding, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Verse 17) So in order to enter the kingdom of God, and we all want to do that, we need to understand these childlike attributes and learn how to re-develop them from a spiritual perspective in our own lives.
When you read 1 Corinthians 13 you see the nature of God’s love described and many of these things are the same as the childlike attributes shown above.
Jesus did not say the kingdom of God belongs to children as some people believe, but he said to those who receive the kingdom “like a child” and, “to such belongs the kingdom of God.” So we need to examine our own lives and seek to re-learn how to live like a child. We need to purify our hearts, be humble, learn how to love and have faith in God the Father to supply our needs and to protect us from the enemy. We need to learn how to trust in the Lord to deliver us from all evil and not rely on our own strength.
In short we need to become children again…children of God.
How to be a Child of God
How we do this is by walking in the ways of the Lord. By following in the words of Jesus and making his word our guiding light. We need to overcome the passions of the flesh through repentance walking in the Spirit. We need to enter into his kingdom by baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to act as our teacher, guide, counsellor and comforter. And we need the curiosity of children to learn and soak up the teachings of Christ so that we can know what pleases him.
There is much to do as individuals and a lot of what we know as adults we need to change. But it is the work of the Lord through the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation in our lives so that we can become children of God. This is the power that he gave to us as he says in John 1:12-13, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Jason Nelson)