“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (verse 3)
Who of us has not encountered in the grocery store, a three-year-old in aisle thirteen throwing a major league temper tantrum? We walk by thinking, “That little tyke needs a good… (I was going to say, “Nap,” what were you going to say?)
As it concerns childish behavior in the spiritual realm, the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child I talked like a child…thought like a child…reasoned like a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.” And then in I Corinthians 3:2 he says, “I had to address you as infants because you were worldly.” Add to that the admonishment in Hebrews 5:12 of those ‘spiritual infants’ who were still getting their nourishment from milk rather than solid food. Not good. Need to grow up.
Compare that to Jesus’ words in this narrative where we are told to “become LIKE little children.” Which is it? In fact, both scenarios are using the ‘child’ analogy; however, the context and application are very different. In becoming like children, Jesus was referring to the unpretentious, totally trusting, teachable, humble, dependent qualities – typical of young children.
In other words, when we give up our right to power and status and humbly acknowledge our total dependence on God, that is when we truly begin to understand what greatness is in the kingdom of heaven.
If you have ever coaxed your kid to jump into the pool with a promise of, “Daddy (Mommy) will catch you,” then I think you get the point of the passage.