Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48
The Beautiful Example of Little Children
This is one of those hard lessons, but then the gospel is a hard gospel, I mean, when you think about it. We make it sound way too easy, but it goes counter to the thinking and nature of the flesh (our sinful natures), the world, and certainly the devil, who uses those two weapons against us. But then again, when we submit to its yoke, when we follow the Spirit’s leading, then the gospel becomes the sweetest thing in the world, and the burden is light. That’s why Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29-30).
And why is the yoke of Christ easy? I think because he was lowly; and that in some mysterious way, he still is lowly, as the Lamb who gives himself for our salvation, who forgives, who intercedes, who does everything for us. But we don’t wish to be lowly. Everything in our nature, everything in the world, tells us that we are to excel, move up, succeed. Now I do not disparage any of this if we are doing so to better ourselves and our family; after all, the Lord gives us gifts and abilities which He wants us to use and improve upon. But He wants us to do so in such a way that serves the kingdom. He wants us to do our best – but for His glory, not ours (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Then Jesus uses a little child as his visual aid. In Mark and Luke, he speaks of receiving such a child, and that in doing so, one receives himself and his Father. In Matthew, Jesus says that we must become like little children to even enter the kingdom of heaven. And why is this? Because little children have a natural humility and unassuming nature about themselves. Oh, I’m aware that children can be cruel to other children, and two-year-olds can pitch howling fits. But there is still an innocence about them that simply asks and receives. They think that there is an endless supply of PBJ sandwiches, and it’s not presumption that makes them think this way – it’s an unassuming trust in their parents, in God. They don’t worry like we do, and that’s the way we want them to be – the way we wish we were, that we could just expect in an unassuming, unpretentious way that God will take care of everything. To know that it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32), to be anxious for nothing (Matthew 6:31-34), to have the peace of God rule in our hearts (Philippians 4:6-7)–this is our desire. It is this kind of faith that frees us then to serve others. And may we receive all the little ones as we have been received by Him.