The Life and Teaching of Jesus – Part 26 – Just Like a Child

Just Like a Child  – Mark 10: 13-16

When an adult corrects a child, the adult is usually trying to get the child to act like an adult. For example, if they are sitting at the table and the adult tries to tell the child what to do in terms of table manners. The adults aim is to help the child get to a point where they can sit at the table with adults and do things the same way adults would do. When Jesus taught, he often taught quite the opposite, because sometimes he said adults needed to be like children. But what exactly did Jesus mean when he said that we were to be like little children?

This passage we can see that people are bringing children to Jesus. (Mark 10:13) Mark draws attention to the fact that these are little children what we today would call infants, children small enough to hold in your arms. However, the disciple’s reprimand these people who are bringing them and Jesus responds by saying that being like a little child is the essence of getting into the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14. He emphasises this in the next verse also. (Mark 10:15) Notice he says “Anyone who does not, “receive” the kingdom of God like a child. The word “receive” indicates that this is a gift you reach out your hand to take just like a little child and receive it as a gift. However, the question is, what is the characteristic of a child that is necessary to get to heaven? I would like to suggest that the main characteristic of a child is the fact that they are trusting and dependant on others. So, if you want to get to heaven be like a trusting child, be a dependent child.

At this point something else happens, a rich young ruler appears. (Mark 10: 17). Here is a wealthy young man, already at the top of the pile financially and socially in this life, and he wants to know about the next life. I think it is also interesting he says, what must I “do” to get into heaven. “What do you have to do?” This rich young ruler is asking the wrong question. Heaven is a gift received by faith, but he wants to know what he has to do. Jesus in response will tell him three things we all need to know to be absolutely sure that when we die we will get to heaven.

Jesus responds, ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. (Mark 10: 18)  Translated, Jesus is saying do you recognize who I really am, do you see that I am the son of God. Please notice there is no answer back.

Jesus then changes the subject and makes his second point.  Look a the verse and count the commandments he quotes. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder 1, you shall not commit adultery 2, you shall not steal 3, you shall not give false testimony 4, you shall not defraud 5, honour your father and mother 6. (Mark 10: 19) Six in this verse. The ten commandments can be divided into two parts. Four deal with the way we relate to God, they deal with God, and our relationship with him.

  • You shall have no other Gods before me.
  • You shall not make any graven image.
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
  • You shall remember and keep the Sabbath Day holy.

But note here Jesus just quoted just six of them. These six he quotes are the ones which deal with how we relate to each other as human beings. In other words, Jesus is saying, hold on, let’s just talk about human nature for a moment. Before you can know about having a relationship with God you have got to know something about yourself. Then he lays out just six of the ten commandments. Please note he did not say now go do these commandments, he just said you have knowledge of these commandments. Jesus is not saying in this passage that in order to be right with God, you just have to keep these commandments. Jesus here is applying the law morally, not judicially. The point of Gods laws, including the commandments is to point to our need of salvation. It teaches us that we have fallen short, missed the mark when it comes to what the Lord commanded. The purpose of the law of God is to teach us that we are all sinners and we are all in need of a saviour. God in his commandments has drawn 10 lines in the sand, in order to demonstrate that that is the standard of righteousness. The whole point of these commandments is not just to show us what to do and what not to do. It is to show us who we really are. Jesus here is simply trying to teach this young man that he is a sinner.

The young man’s reply is quite unbelievable. ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’ (Mark 10:20) Maybe he thought because he had followed these rules judicially he would thereby be Okay. Maybe he thought,”  I did some of these things but afterward’s I always went and made the appropriate sacrifices at the temple”. The point is if people believe that they have never sinned, there are never going to see their need of a saviour and that means they can never enter the kingdom of God. The only people who qualify for heaven are sinners, and I am really glad about that, because that means we all qualify. Jesus himself said; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5: 32)

Jesus says to him, go on your way and sell everything you have and give it to the poor and then you gain heaven. On the surface this seems a radically different statement to what Jesus has always been teaching before about heaven being a free gift. What is going on here? The point is not that this young man had great wealth, the problem was his money had hold of him. That is why Jesus told this rich young man to get rid of it, give it to the poor. People hang on to all kinds of stuff, hoping that’s going to help them get to heaven. This young man’s individual Achilles heel was his money. He thought that because he was rich it could influence his access to eternal life and heaven. The problem was the whole focus of the question, because it revealed his attitude, it revealed the posture of his heart. This young man walked away with a sad face, because he didn’t get the answer he wanted.

Then Jesus looking around says; “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words”.  (Mark 10 23b-24a) NKJV. The disciples are astonished, some might say even a little bit confused, so Jesus clarifies for them by saying,  “how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10 24b-25) NKJV. It is not that the man had money, it is that he was trusting his money.

At the beginning I told you there were three things here that Jesus is telling us we need to know to get to heaven?

  • Recognise who Jesus is. (The Son of God, the saviour of the world.
  • Realise who you are. ( A sinner who is in need of a saviour)
  • Trust in Him. (Trust in Him with child-like faith)

The bible tells us this salvation is a gift, accept the gift like a child does with thanksgiving and child-like faith.  It’s impossible to get to heaven any other way, in fact;  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone trusting in anything else to enter the kingdom of God. In other words, it’s impossible for it to be done by any other way than straightforward child-like faith.

In other words, if you are trusting in yourself, then this is impossible. If you think you can win Gods favour with your money, power or influence, then this is impossible. However, with God all things are possible, you simply have to trust in Him with child-like faith. The only reason anybody ever finds peace with God and gets to heaven is because Jesus Christ died for their sin and rose from the dead. It’s not what we do, it’s what he did. As Jesus just said, what is impossible with man, is possible with God. Will you depend upon him and not yourself? Will you be a self-sufficient adult, relying on your own resources, or will you be childlike and dependant on Him? Are you like a wide-eyed child trusting in Him. Then reach out your hand and receive the free gift of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus.

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Just Like a Child