Matthew 18:1-4...At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
I imagine that when the Disciples heard these words coming from Jesus, were shocked and at the same time dismayed. Certainly many of the Scribes of the day were up in arms. Think about it. Here they were studying day and night to know the Scriptures. When I say "studying", that word really doesn't do it justice.
In order to be considered a scribe, you needed to memorize the books of Moses and be able to write them word-for-word. That's right, you needed to memorize the first 5 books of the Hebrew scriptures. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. I have a hard enough time remembering my PIN Number! But these dedicated people actually took tests to make sure they knew their stuff.
The Disciples were no different. They were dedicated to know the Scriptures as well, just as we are today. So to say you first had to have faith like one of the children that Jesus had called to himself was a double shock.
But was Jesus actually saying you had to know nothing in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven? Not really. If we look at if more closely, He actually says that, "unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
So here is how I see it:
- You MUST turn and change. Not only repentance is included here. You must become child-like in your faith. Stop looking at things like an adult. You are not going to be saved by how much you know or hoe much people look up to you.
- Humility. Like my post yesterday about what Paul wrote in Romans 12. If you are going to exalt yourself, how in the world are you going to exalt Jesus at all? Just like in Highlander (the movie) "There can be only one." That "one" is Jesus. No, not you or me.
- Dependence. Just like a child is dependent upon adults for protection, food, shelter, clothing, in fact, children depend on their caretakers to make the right choices for them and to provide a good and safe environment for them, we must depend upon the LORD for those things. There are many examples in both the Old and New Testaments where this is stated in plain words. Give up your INdependence and give yourself over to the care of the LORD. Like a real parent, He will not steer you wrong or mislead you.
If you are like me, I need to give myself daily to this task. It certainly does not come naturally for me...like a child.