Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”Luke 18:15-17
To Seek and to Save
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the priest would enter the holiest place in the Temple and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. When he came out, he blessed the people, showing them that God’s peace – His shalom – was turned toward them for another year. But not everyone could get to Jerusalem, so it seems that a tradition sprang up, particularly to help families. On the evening of the Day of atonement, families would take their children to their rabbi for a blessing. Perhaps this is what was happening with Jesus in our passage.
The disciples tried to turn the parents away – we can only guess why. But Jesus wouldn’t have this. And he said three important things to the disciples.
- Let the children come to me
- To such as these belongs the kingdom of God
- If you don’t receive the kingdom like a child, you won’t enter it
The word Jesus used to talk about children is infants – little babies. And what He said was clear – the Kingdom of God is theirs. This must have been shocking for the disciples. The Kingdom of God belonged to these children, who had been brought to Jesus for a blessing; and to all other children who are brought to Him. But Jesus goes further than this. He moves from talking about these babies to talking about everyone (whoever, v17). Everyone has to receive the kingdom like these babies, or they will not be able to enter it. What had these children done to enter the kingdom? Nothing! They received it, from Jesus, as a free and gracious gift. It’s the same for us. If we wish to enter the Kingdom of God, we have to receive it as a free and gracious gift.
If Jesus loved little children enough to welcome them into His kingdom, then so should we. We can do nothing greater for our children than to bring them to Jesus. And if we have no children of our own, we can at least pray for those we know.
Comment: I think Naaman can be used as an excellent example of how we are to receive God’s blessing and enter His kingdom. We can read about Naaman in II Kings 5. He was a Syrian general who contracted leprosy. One of his servant girls, an Israelite, told him of a man who could heal him – the prophet Elisha. Naaman took with him gold and silver and even a letter f commendation from the Syrian king, to plead his cause with Elisha. But Elisha would have none of it. He told Naaman to wash in the River Jordan. Naaman was offended. Not only were his gifts not wanted, but he also had to wash in a small local river when there were much grander rivers in his homeland. And the prophet wouldn’t do anything – no incantations, no waving of his hands as he wove his magic. Elisha made it clear that Naaman could do nothing except wash, and then he would be clean. It was an exercise in childlike trust.