15 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. 16 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. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Thematically, it makes sense that Luke put this here after his parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Because we have a third perspective presented here that is the correct one: that of a child.
The crowds around Jesus are bringing their children and infants to the Lord to be blessed by Him and the disciples are trying to tell them all to get lost. Maybe they’ve been at this for a while and are tired, hot, hungry, and they figure Jesus feels the same. They just want to be left alone.
Jesus tells them to let the kids through. One of the things that you quickly realize about Jesus when reading through these gospels is that He always had time for people. And if He didn’t have time for them, He made time for them. People were important to Him. And these little children were no exception. Even when tired, fatigued, or at the end of a long day, you would still find Jesus ready to give a sermon, heal the sick, or bless someone.
I’m more like the disciples in that regard. There are times when I’m just ‘done’ with dealing with people and I just want to be left alone. Doing that means, however, that I’m leaving someone in pain, leaving someone who needs encouragement all alone. It means ignoring people that matter to God and sometimes people that matter to me. (They’re not always the same, unfortunately.)
Striving to be a disciple of Jesus means putting people first, even when it’s not convenient for us.
And then He adds that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these and that one must receive the Kingdom of God like a child to enter into it.
What does it mean to receive the Kingdom of God like a child? It implies a relationship with the King first of all. You accept your role in the family and in the kingdom. You accept the grace, love, provisions, and gifts handed to you without pride or arrogance, but with thanks. You try to mimic your Father. You learn how to treat others from the way you were treated. You are sincere with your emotions and your motivations. You cry out when wounded. You laugh and smile when warranted. You apologize to others when you wrong them and you extend pardon to others when wronged because you’re family. You help family when they need it. You hug your hurting siblings. You cry with them. You rejoice at their good fortune. You share your own good fortune with them.
To accept the kingdom of God as a child is to trust in the Father, to live a life of grace, love, humility, and to maintain the proper perspective in all things. We’re all interconnected, part of a huge family under one roof.
Will there be times (perhaps many) when we fail to live up to that? Yes. But we should never stop trying, never stop reminding ourselves that we have a Father we wish to honor and we have siblings we’re responsible for. And we should never forget that no matter what happens, our Father will love us and always keeps a place ready for us at the dinner table.