We turn this week to Luke 18, focusing primarily on verses 15-17, but looking at these words of our Saviour Jesus Christ in the context of the larger picture, asking “Who enters the Kingdom of God, and how?” This is what Luke has recorded for us in verses 15-17:
15 Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him, saying, “Let the children come to Mme, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
In the coming week we have the great privilege to welcome more than 130 children and their families to Bethel Baptist Church, but our much greater responsibility is to offer them entry into the Kingdom of God, and if we are to offer them entry, we had better know ourselves who it is who enters the Kingdom, and how one enters. Our teaching material for the week is from Children Desiring God. The package is entitled, “Things Hidden: A Study for Children on Kingdom Parables.” It is well-written, solidly Biblical, and pitched at the right level for children to understand.
The focus is on Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom:
- The first lesson is from Matthew 13, verses 44-46, where Jesus describes the Kingdom as something of great value, “like treasure in a field,” or a “pearl of great value,” and the theme is, “The Kingdom of God is more valuable than all a person’s possessions.”
- The second lesson is from Luke 8, verses 4-15, “The Parable of the Sower and the Seeds,” which we know well, and the theme is, “How the Word of God is received is dependent on a person’s heart condition.”
- On Wednesday, the lesson will be from Luke 15, verses 11-24, the parable of the Prodigal Son, with the key theme, “God welcomes repentant sinners with much rejoicing and celebration.”
- On Thursday, we will be looking at Matthew 13, 24-50, where Jesus tells parables about weeds being sown among good seed, about a great mustard plant growing from a tiny seed, and then explains that there are two kinds of people, those who will enter the Kingdom of God and those who will not. The key theme is “God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous.”
- And finally on Friday, we will look at Luke 15, verses 3-7 and8-10, parables which precede the parable of the Prodigal Son, where Jesus describes the joy in heaven when a sinner repents, when someone enters the Kingdom. The theme is, “God searches for those who belong to Him.”
Here in Luke Chapter 18, after having told His disciples about the coming of the Kingdom at the end of Chapter 17, Jesus teaches them about Who will enter the kingdom and how. The heart of the passage is in verses 15-17, with verse 17 providing the summary for the whole Chapter, where Jesus says to them, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
What did Jesus mean by “like a child?” He didn’t say that we can only enter the Kingdom when we are children, but that we must enter it like children. The two parables at the beginning of the Chapter, and Jesus’ discussion with “The Rich Ruler” at the end of the Chapter, show us what “like a child” means.
- In verses 1-8, we find the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Here, we often focus on persistence in prayer and God’s promise that, in the end, when Christ comes again, God will “give justice to His elect.” But there is another lesson in this parable, that justice will ultimately come to those who have faith. Luke says as he begins to tell of this parable that Jesus “told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” After telling the parable, Jesus asks, “when the Son of Man come, will He find faith on earth.” More than persistence in prayer, the lesson is that those who have faith, who trust that God will grant justice, will right all wrongs, these are the ones who will enter the Kingdom.
- In verses 9-14, we find the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, both praying in the Temple, the Pharisee in his self-righteousness praying “I thank you [God] that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” The other, in contrast, “would not even lift up his eyes to heave, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “I tell you, … Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Who will enter the Kingdom? Not the self-righteous, but the humble – the ones who know their weakness and unworthiness, who come to God in great humility.
- In verses 18-25, a rich ruler comes to Jesus asking “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, “How can I enter into the Kingdom of God?” Jesus tells him that he must give up his riches, but “when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” And Jesus said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” There follows a discussion with Jesus’ disciples, who, surprised that a rich man (obviously blessed by God from their perspective), say that they have given up much to follow Jesus. And Jesus says to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” If our hope and faith, our trust and our security, come from anything other than God Himself, we will not “inherit eternal life,” we will not “enter the Kingdom of God.”
Who will enter the Kingdom of God, and how will they enter? “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Only those whose faith and trust is in God and in God alone through His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, will enter the Kingdom. They will enter with profound humility, knowing that there is nothing and no one else on earth by which they may enter, not riches, not through the faithfulness and goodness of anyone else, but only through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Will you enter? Have you entered into the Kingdom of God? In Whom are you trusting?
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