“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” ~ Mark 10:13-16
I was extremely blessed last week by spending time with 9 out of 12 of our great-grandchildren. Dave and I had lunch with two great granddaughters, ages 6 and 2, and their mother on one day. I learned all about swimming lessons and books being read. She loves the series she is reading now, not only for the story, but because there are cupcake recipes in it and she loves to bake. The other brought me many of her Minnie Mouse items to see in addition to her baby dolls. It was wonderful and lunch was good, too.
On Saturday, our great-grandson had a birthday party with seven great-grandchildren in attendance including the youngest whom I had not seen. Their ages were: 2 children-age 8, the birthday boy – age 6, one – 5, one – 3, one almost 1, and the baby – 3 months all well behaved and extremely energetic. Birthday boy was a perfect gentleman, as always, and he opened the gifts he received with big smiles of enjoyment and gratitude.
After spending time with children, I wondered what Jesus might have meant in the scripture passage above. It is recorded in three of the gospels so obviously it made an impression on His disciples. It makes an impression on me. No one will enter the Kingdom of God unless they receive it as a little child does. Well….? What is it about children that we need to be like in order to get into the Kingdom? We raised six children – one of them a grandchild, so I am almost an expert on children, but I’m still not sure what Jesus means.
Some say children are humble. C. S. Lewis said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself it is thinking of yourself less,” so if true, that hardly fits. Children are constantly thinking about themselves, and none of us give up that right to ourselves easily, if at all. Others say that they are naturally trusting. Yes, until for various reasons, they learn that many people are not trustworthy. Children “stay in the moment”…until they learn about birthdays, Santa, the ice-cream truck, etc. “They are teachable because they don’t have preconceptions” – for a short time, that is. They “are innocent” – have you ever met a two-year old? I don’t imagine that these are the qualities Jesus has in mind.
The Kingdom of God is a free gift that we don’t have to earn because Jesus already paid. We couldn’t earn it if we tried and we do try. We can only accept the Gift – accept Jesus – accept his Kingdom. A child doesn’t turn down gifts–they know they’re free, so, they are excited about gifts, they accept them, reach out and take them, unwrap and use them. They are grateful. Why do we make this gift from Jesus so hard? Be like the children Jesus says.
Lord, Jesus, we want to accept your gifts like children do, with big smiles of joy and gratitude, but we keep trying to earn them. Help us remember that you paid for the Kingdom and offer it to us, no charge. Help us accept your free gift, offer our thanksgiving to you, and take our place in your Kingdom, today. Amen.