Luke 18:15-17 (NASB)
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
The language of salvation is a foreign language to most. “Sir, are you saved?” Saved from what? Biblical language is a learned language as well. For example, Biblical writers often refer to the kingdom of God. “The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). Daniel writes, “God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3). But what is the kingdom of God? A kingdom is a reign or dominion. God’s kingdom is His reign. Those who defy Christ and His authority are not part of the kingdom of God. Those who acknowledge the Lordship of Christ are members of the kingdom of God.
- The kingdom of God is received, not achieved.
The church makes disciples—kingdom citizens—by preaching the gospel, baptizing believers and teaching them all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18–20). Nevertheless, the kingdom of God is not something that we make happen. It is fundamentally a gift, something that our Creator gives to His people because of His great love for the world (John 3:16). We do not walk into the kingdom; rather, the kingdom embraces us. Receiving the kingdom of God happens like a child receives.
- Receiving the kingdom as a child means as a helpless infant.
Jesus uses the example of a child to illustrate this point. We must receive the kingdom “like a child” (Luke 18:17). Here, the Greek word translated “child” refers to the youngest and most helpless of all. The word is παιδίον, or pedion, from which we get our English word pediatric (e.g. “of a little child”).
Characteristics of receiving Christ’s dominion as a little child:
- With interest in Jesus – If the newborn hears a voice, he turns his head and eyes immediately.
- With nearness to Jesus – Dependency need is "the vital, originally infantile needs for mothering, love, affection, shelter, protection, security, food, and warmth”.
- With fixation on Jesus – This One Person I know, this One Person I believe, this One alone I desire.
- With appreciation for Jesus – Not in words, but in spirit and in attitude. A relaxed state.
- With nothing for Jesus – Nothing but who the infant is as a person. Nothing else.
- With trust in Jesus – There’s no ultimate trouble – just trust that’s what’s coming is good.
- Receiving the kingdom as a child means no mess in your life is too great for Him to clean up.
Augustus Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages” includes this line: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” These lyrics wonderfully encapsulate Jesus’ teaching in Luke 18:15-17. We come into the kingdom only by admitting that we have nothing to give, that all we can do is rely on Christ for grace and forgiveness. Once in the kingdom, we continue to admit the same things. We never lose our need to depend wholly on Jesus. This is why this text comes after Jesus teaches us to pray.
- Kingdom citizens are always in a position of trusting the goodness of the King.
- Kingdom citizens are always the strongest and most protected when dependence is on the King.
- Kingdom citizens want nothing more and nothing less than the King’s presence in their lives.