Like Little Children Entering the Kingdom of Heaven
Translated by Allan Liang
This passage of Scripture describes the scene of Jesus interacting with young children, a passage that we are deeply familiar with, and often use when talking about children. The people brought children to see Jesus, the word “brought” in Greek means that same as the word “dedication”, similar to the dedication of children today. But the disciples without examining the cause, tried to stop the children, which made Jesus indignant, for the things and people he cared about were not understood by the disciples. Thus the Lord gave them such teachings, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” (verse 14a) Who were the ones who tried to hinder the children? Why did they not set their minds on the will of the Lord but rather tried to hinder them? If the circumstances did not permit, or the conditions were not met, or if people did not know God, and thus, hindered the children from coming to the Lord, perhaps it would not be too difficult to understand, but for the disciples to hinder the children who had already came to Jesus, indeed it is quite difficult to explain. Is it because the children were small to the point of being insignificant, that they lacked any external luster, or that they had nothing to boast about? Or is it because of their young age and the possibility to pave other paths for them, not needing to come to Jesus for his blessings? In sum, the disciples looked lightly upon the little children who were precious in the Lord’s eyes, yet the Lord said, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (verse 14b) The Lord continued saying, those who inherit the kingdom of God must become like a little child. Based on common understandings, people interpret this as having to do with children’s innocence and humility. Actually, this is not so. “Little sinners” can also at times, act not so humbly and be not so innocent, not so free of evil. The Lord here is speaking of little children and their attitudes when receiving gifts. When little children receive gifts, they do not think that they have earned it, and place these freely received gifts on their own scale of works, rather they set their eyes on the gifts alone. They have no net worth and could not have saved any usable capital, and their days being still short, have not undertaken any grand expeditions on this earth; only this gift can make them rejoice, and having cheerfully accepted it, in this manner, they have inherited the kingdom of God. The Lord said we must become like little children in order to inherit the kingdom of God, and having received his free grace, we must give thanks and focus intently on this grace, on the grace-supplying LORD, and no longer count our gains and losses, but have grace conquer all of our heart. Having entered the kingdom of God, let our hearts by grace, be renewed and transformed, so that we may more greatly love God and love our neighbors, and let us also put to practice the lifestyles of the kingdom of heaven, putting to death all sin and prevailing over ourselves. In the journey of growing up, little children will begin to walk, and with each step they take forwards, become more and more balanced, likewise we who walk on the path of grace, begin as spiritual infants, walking towards God’s eternal kingdom, all the way forward. May today’s learning serve as a reminder to those among us who are parents, and let us ponder as to whether or not we too have today, hindered our children on their path of faith, and have replaced that path with the path of self-actualization? Is it also the case that though God’s blessings have clearly come upon us, we still, without discerning what is good and bad, lead our children away from God, towards the vanities of human dreams? May God let us understand the will of the LORD, that the children under the covenant of grace ought to be offered in his presence, guarded and blessed by Him. Please meditate and pray: Can we in the likeness of little children, fixate on the grace that we have freely received? Why can we not? Is there a certain self-righteousness that makes us think as if we have earned our salvation? May God let us repent.