“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them.”
“And He was saying, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear'.”
Non-Catholic Non-Protestant Non-Ecumenical
The commandments of God concerning His love within and humility - The necessity of receiving the Kingdom like a little child receives it.
In Mark, after declaring the powerful facts about God’s verdict concerning remarriage following divorce, Jesus immediately made this second very powerful declaration about the essential nature of all true and faithful believers. His statement was succinct and absolute.
By structuring these words of Christ as He did, the Holy Spirit - through the Gospel writers - at once emphasized the absolute importance of them just as He did concerning the words that are just before them and those that are just after them. We have already seen the utter importance of the issue just covered – divorce and remarriage. (Another absolutely important matter will be seen later in the monumental issue that follows the words now considered.)
It is this second issue that both strikes the mark of submission to God and at once guarantees obedience to His commandments in this group of teachings. Indeed, possessing this attribute is fundamental in the lives of all believers who submit to the rule of Jesus Christ. Without this no one will or can obey everything that He commanded! No Christian is without the characteristic that Jesus spoke of next! As obvious as submission to these words of Jesus appear to the masses who confess to be Christians, the churches are yet filled with people who agree with them but themselves do not walk in them.
Mark declares, "And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 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. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not by any means enter it!’"
Submission to these words, which seems so obvious, is truly the grand failure of the churches. In one real sense, everything hangs upon the fulfillment of these words. This is reflected in the attitude that Jesus had towards those who were preventing the children. It wasn't simply children coming to Himself, per se, that Jesus was concerned with. It was the significance revealed in these acts -- it was what the Spirit of His Father was revealing through these children approaching His Son. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark declares that Jesus was angry with those who prevented the children. He wasn't simply angry because those who were among the lowest in society were prevented from coming to Him, He was primarily angry because His disciples were fundamentally missing the will of God revealed in these responses. They were failing to see the nature of the humility that is essential to seeking the blessing, fellowship, and the ways of Jesus Christ. This is made crystal clear in the responsive words of Jesus. In a statement that on the surface seems foreign to the event, He declared without hesitation and without ambiguity that no one would enter the kingdom of God who did not receive it exactly like a child receives it. The immediate question then is, how does a child receive the kingdom of God? The answer is discovered in the simple observation of the true and uncorrupted nature of children. Furthermore, the Scriptures themselves emphasize the quintessence of this nature.
First, we will look at the pure nature of children and then consider Scriptural declarations that use characteristics and examples of children as laws for believers. The consideration of the nature of children must not be evaluated from a merely human point of view but according to the Word of God when it speaks approvingly of children and infants. This last designation, infants, is the very word that Luke used when he described these children who were coming to Jesus. Unlike Matthew and Mark who said that the people were bringing little children to Jesus, he said that they were bringing infants or babies to Jesus. Now, what characteristics do these little ones possess? Some of the salient and Scripturally endorsed are: they are dependent, they are humble, they readily forgive, they are trusting, they readily learn, they are submissive, they are obedient, they seek protection, they give, they honor, they share. Regarding the quintessential nature of little children, the Spirit of Jesus said through Peter, "putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all evil-speaking, like newborn babes, intensely desire the pure Word milk that by it you may grow into salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good. And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Because it stands in the Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice Stone, a precious Cornerstone, and he who believes in Him shall not be put to shame.’ This honor, then, is for you who believe." The pure Word milk is nothing other than the pure nature, will and commandments of Jesus Christ, that is, the character and message of Jesus. It is the Lord Himself Who is tasted. (John would later say that Jesus said that whoever does not eat his flesh and drink his blood does not have His life.) Only by having these characteristics, only in possessing these attributes of children shall anyone be able to deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow Jesus. It is only through the God-wrought humility of little children that believers submit themselves to the commandments of Jesus Christ. The unbelieving and sinful, arrogant and haughty attitude of ignorant, stubborn, and rebellious men cannot and will not submit or sustain submission to any of the weighty and pressing demands of Jesus Christ.
To further emphasize the absolute importance of really possessing this quality of humble submission to Jesus, the Synoptic Gospel writers gave it prominence in the very structure of the Word of God. By doing so they highlighted the fact that walking in this characteristic is indispensable for those who are Christians. (I will deal at length about the structure of the Scriptures revealing the absolute importance of the indispensable truth and requirements of Christianity under the alphabetized page. Suffice it here to say the following: Ancient writers used common techniques to highlight important facts just as modern writers do. The difference is, of course, that some of the techniques used by them were, in the nature of the case, different from and foreign to those used by writers of our times. However, there are some shared techniques. One of those was used by Matthew, Mark, and Luke and is a final and summing declaration.) In one of the great conclusions in Matthew, he ends the teachings of Jesus about the kingdom of God the last time that He was in Galilee with His absolute requirements concerning purity, love, and holiness. These final Galilean declarations were made immediately before the great declarations that the Spirit of God fully manifested when Jesus entered Perea - those that are written about on these main pages. As the final and summing message of His last words to the Galileans, Jesus declared that no offending sin was/is to be found among those who confess His Name. This sin must be radically exterminated! It must be intensely dealt with in this fashion -- the offending hand and foot must be cut off and the offending eye must be plucked out. One must endeavor to radically deal with his sin in a self-mutilating fashion so that he may enter the kingdom of God. One must endeavor to enter heaven in a maimed, sin-free condition rather than remain whole by keeping his sin intact and be cast down to eternal judgment. Then He told the well-known parable of the lost sheep. But instead of applying it to lost sinners like Luke did, through Matthew Jesus applied it to the literal little children of His kingdom with this meaning: offending such ones must be exterminated! Next, He further applied this teaching of holiness to all of His people in this same way! He said that if someone committed this sin and would not repent from it that he should be regarded as an unbeliever because he rejected the speedy remedy that He imposed! Then Peter asked Him if he should forgive a brother who sinned this way seven times. His reply was that forgiving one who repented of such sins must be endless, provided that the person truly repented of his offending sins. Then Jesus entered Perea. Now, this entire summary of love and holiness began with these words: "At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me." All the rest of the summary was part and parcel with these words. All the rest received its meaning and power from the truth revealed in these words!
Beside the great finale in Luke's Gospel, which is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the next important conclusion in his gospel is a summing up of the teachings and deeds of Jesus in Galilee before the absolute teachings that are unique to Luke and that occurred in Judea and Perea. The following is Luke's parallel to the same children-specific words just covered in Matthew. Luke said, "And an argument arose among them as to which of them (the apostles) might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in My Name receives me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for he who is least among you, this is the one who is great.’"
Mark conjoins the words of Matthew and Luke in his rendition of this same Galilean finale before the great Perean events and declarations. What must be seen in both Matthew and Mark is the doubling of the child-humility motif: In summary description (in Galilee), both of them declared that all believers must be just like humble children in order to enter God’s Kingdom and then both immediately proceeded in leading description (in Perea) to state this fact again as a grand major theme of the character of all who will enter the kingdom of God. This underscores in bold relief the absolute requirement that this nature MUST BE IN ALL who confess Christianity!
In summary, in declaring these things and speaking in this fashion the Spirit of Jesus reveals the absolute requirement that all who confess to be His followers must possess the fundamental nature and character of children -- they must be humbly obedient! Indeed, it is only by possessing this pure humility that anyone can obey the hard requirements of Jesus Christ -- those that the churches are disobedient to and wish were not there, those that are very weighty and required by God for fellowship with Himself. Without this nature, no one can keep and honor His hard sayings, especially those that came before and those that come after this teaching about children. Only those who receive the kingdom as a child and who are in adulterous marriages can deny themselves and their own will and pleasure and submit to the hard and painful road that is often involved in the initial putting away of this particular sin with all that it can entail. Only those who receive the kingdom as a child can willingly and lovingly endure the hatred of men which is occasioned by these holy requirements of Jesus and their submission to them. Without this nature, sinful flesh will throw off the holy yoke of the will of God regarding marriage or anything else that threatens its comfort, pleasure, and existence.
"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
And He cried out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."The next teaching of Jesus in Perea was all-inclusive and deals with God and Mammon.