Luke 18 v 17. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were looking for the Kingdom of God to arrive with great pomp and splendour. They were awaiting a Kingdom of power and so they failed to recognise the King of that Kingdom himself standing before them. It may have been that he just did not look the part. He was not grand enough or important enough for them. But now it seems that the disciples make an opposite mistake. Some mothers brought their babies for Christ to bless and the disciples rebuked them. It seems that they thought that babies were not good enough or important enough for Christ to spend any of his time and effort on them. Our Lord corrected them saying “for the Kingdom belongs to such as these” (v 16). What did he mean?
A little child receives its food, love, protection and care from its parents, without beginning to think of whether it is deserved or whether they are important enough to get these things. We, on the other hand, are always struggling with the issue of merit before God. This simple illustration of trust is used by Jesus to illustrate the inner attitude of those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.
In our day it seems that many people are impressed when they hear of great or important people becoming Christians. We feel that somehow the Christian faith is authenticated when famous people become Christians. Of course, we rejoice when famous people, who against the push of the world, embrace Christ as Saviour, but then we rejoice also when ordinary people who will never be famous are converted to Christ.
In our celebrity culture today, we sometimes seem to catch the spirit of idolatry as well known and greatly admired people are pointed out as believers, and we tend to forget the admonishment of the apostle Paul who reminded the Christians at Corinth that not many wise, influential or noble people were called to faith (1 Corinthians 1 verses 26/27).
Of course, we are grateful that God in His wisdom and grace does sometimes save powerful and influential people, but the point is that the vast majority of Christians are the ordinary nobodies of this world. That is what these little children represented. They were weak and helpless, entirely dependent on their parents, and that, says Jesus, is the attitude toward God, that all who would enter the Kingdom should have.
How prone we all are to get our values mixed. We always tend to think that the important people of this world are more important to God than we are. Not so, says Jesus. What counts is true trust in the grace of God and a recognition that in terms of the Kingdom of God, we are helpless and weak. We have nothing to offer, nothing we can use to persuade God to let us in. It is by grace alone that we are saved and those who belong to the Kingdom know it.