“Oh, how I wish I could be child again!” Interestingly enough, Jesus shares your wish. In as many words, he says, “Oh how I wish you just become like a child again”. Gives a whole new perspective on being childish, huh? When I was younger (20-40 years old), my life was full of ambition. In many ways it still is. The difference is that then “I” was trying to make my mark on the world by “my” own strategy and achievements. Now, I simply seek submit to God’s will in my life, humbly trusting Him in all things and just wanting to be in His presence knowing that I am loved and wanting to share my love. I am forever in His classroom. “Oh, how I enjoy being a child again!”
Mark 9:36-37 (TNIV)
36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
First, a short context: These verses follow and are in response to the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest among them in the coming kingdom: (verse 34) “But they [the disciples] kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”
Probably one of the most mysterious things in life that we ponder is……..God. We don’t have answers to all of our questions, we don’t know Him face-to-face, we don’t know all about God, do we? There is much mystery. BUT, this we do know: Jesus unlocked the mystery for us. As we submit to Jesus, trust Him and trust in His wisdom, indeed, as we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior…..we start to know and understand the creator of the universe….God the father.
I accept a great amount of mystery in my life just as a child accepts a great amount of mystery in their life. “So dad, what are we doing today?” “Dad, how does that work?” “Dad, what should I do when I have trouble with my friends?” If we had good earthly parents growing up, then as children, we simply and humbly know that they will provide. There is a lot of mystery. We don’t know “how” they get the food or the money to purchase it, we don’t know “how” we have a roof over our head. We simply and humbly know that dad and mom provide.
As we grow independent, we start to see some of the mystery unveiled and so we start to feel in control of our lives. What Jesus is telling us here is that it is important to keep that childlike quality and humbleness throughout life and into our old age.
This story from Mark 9:36-37 is also told by Matthew. Matthew recorded more of Jesus words, let’s take a look:
Matthew 18:1-5 (TNIV)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child, whom he placed among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes a humble place–becoming like this child–is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
One thing that is often very mysterious to many people is how the kingdom of heaven/the kingdom of God can be here right now, though it extends into eternity. These Scriptures, I believe, helps shed a layer of that mystery.
When we start to humbly trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we actually “enter” into the kingdom. Let me share a short note here: The word in Aramaic that is translated as “child” is also translated as “servant”. Hmmmmmmmm……..like a servant, indeed, like a child, when we have the same spirit of humility toward others as well as the same spirit of humility and trust toward Jesus, when we turn “TO” God from our sin and embrace His wisdom for our lives, we indeed enter into the kingdom of heaven/the kingdom of God.
I read it best put like this, “A child comes to a trusted adult without achievements or personal greatness; instead, the child comes simply trusting that he will be received and loved.” This is the attitude that I work hard to have in my heart each and every day.
Lastly, I submit that in a different fashion, when we treat others around us as we would treat our children, with love, with compassion, wanting the best for them, wanting to see them blossom and grow…….we become most like Jesus. So who is the greatest? It is not those who are seeking a place of advantage….it is those who are seeking a place of service. But their desire is not to be greatest. That’s the heavenly paradox and what makes all the difference……….the first will be last and the last will be first.