13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
The age of innocence is sometimes a popular conversation in Christian circles. The discussion revolves around if someone is born into sinfulness, if paedo-baptism is necessary/ biblical, and at what age do children understand the difference between right and wrong and that they want to claim Jesus as their Savior? The more important question is, what does Jesus mean by the Kingdom of God belonging to “such as these”? What does it mean to be like children and why is it necessary to enter the Kingdom of God?
John Gill breaks down the meaning of this phrase to say:
“that they are, or ought to be, like such children, harmless and inoffensive; free from rancour and malice, meek, modest, and humble; without pride, self-conceit, and ambitious views, and desires of grandeur and superiority”
If we read the Beatitudes, noted at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we can see that these very qualities are what He lists as being the blessed qualities of man. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, both wrote that we are to keep ourselves unstained by the world in order to live in God’s Kingdom. Notice a very subtle part of the passage from Mark in verse 15; Jesus says we must receive the kingdom of God. We must accept it like a child: humbly, selflessly, without desire for superiority, and free from malice. These things are all explained in Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of God. In trying to understand how we enter and remain in God’s Kingdom and how He reigns in our hearts, we find that He is telling us our need to be childlike in our faith.
Children are innocent, new, fresh and wondering. Their imagination is practically unlimited (until us adults start telling them how it is in the “real world”.) Why don’t we, possessing the Holy Spirit, perform miracles like the first disciples did? Why can’t we fully believe and trust in God’s provision for things we do not have nor think will come to pass? Children fully trust their parents to provide because that is the only way they know they will get to eat or arrive at school or be able to watch TV. This is the attitude Jesus tells us we must take on in our relationship with God the Father. In order for us to fully experience the Kingdom of God, we must believe with childlike faith, recognizing that the only way it will happen is by providence of our Heavenly Father.
Unfortunately, we all have become stained by the world. We all have adapted attitudes in at least one area of our lives where we think like unbelievers. We have believed that these things are just fairy tails and wishful thinking and therefore do not fully believe what God says about Himself and His Kingdom. We must break free from this! Paul encourages the Romans in Romans 12:
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
If we humbly put our lives in God’s hands, we will receive His Kingdom! If we trust Him with all we are and all we have, we will begin to understand the glory of His Kingdom here and now! What were once taught to us as fairy tails will begin to come to life. What we once thought were just motivational stories to get us to believe will now become true accounts of what we experience today. We must remove the poisons from our lives that skew our vision and hinder our belief. We’ve spent so long becoming “adults” that we have lost our childlike faith and the ability to see things the way they really are.