Mark 10:13-16 “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
Jesus stated that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Here we have a very exclusionary statement. To whom did Jesus speak this strong word of caution? It appears Jesus directs this statement mostly to His disciples. This message applies especially to all who seek to follow Him.
What can we learn from these words of Jesus?
First and most obviously, the Kingdom is reserved for those who have faith and trust in their God that is like the faith of a child in his or her parents. This is a total trust that leads to full submission and obedience to the will of the parents. A child does not launch out on their own journey and career but is under the will of the parents.
Like a child is under submission to the parents, so those who would enter the Kingdom must be in complete submission to God. No self-willed, self-seeking, self-dependent people need apply.
Second, how ironic that those who sought to keep children from Christ were His followers, His chosen disciples. They were concerned only with their own ideas of how they thought Christ’s ministry should work. In doing so they were keeping the most likely candidates from meeting the Savior.
Sadly, this is often how it goes. It has been the leaders of the institutional religion who repeatedly have been the ones to persecute those who seek Jesus in simple, obedient faith. It has been famously stated that Jesus has suffered more in the house of His friends than that of His enemies.
Jesus gave few absolute requirements in the Gospels. We have been discussing the priority of a submitted, surrendered heart and life for some time. Jesus described these in various ways. Denying oneself. Taking up one’s cross. Losing one’s life. Hating one’s life. Obeying His commands. And here, becoming as a child. In every case, Jesus makes the requirement absolute.
What does a childlike response to our God and His Kingdom look like? It is a simple trust that believes God no matter what. It is a totally dependent faith, expressed in abandoning all self-life and self-will to live only by the life of Christ. It accepts Him unconditionally and wholeheartedly. This response seeks no exceptions or conditions but living only by expectant faith. And it turns first to God for all of life’s needs and opportunities.
All the promises of the gospel are reserved for such a childlike faith. Answered prayer, the fruit of the Spirit, courage and strength, wisdom and revelation are for those who live in abandonment and obedience to Christ. Like trusting children look only to their parents, such disciples are given over completely to the indwelling Christ.
In the next content post I will share a story of such a childlike faith.
Image via the Blazing Center, with a post on the same topic at https://theblazingcenter.com/2016/07/5-characteristics-of-childlike-faith.html