Luke 18:15-17 (NKJV)
Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such belongs the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
I used the New King James translation here because it correctly renders the Greek emphatic negative (ου μη – “ou may”) in verse 17 as, “by no means.” This is puzzling, but it must be important.
The people think that Jesus’ touch will benefit their children, even though the babies don’t seem to be sick. This partly explains the disciples’ concern, but they also seem to be jealous of Jesus’ time. The disciples aren’t trusting Him to make His own choices. Yikes!
Jesus replies by making a point that doesn’t quite seem to fit. He doesn’t talk about whether it’s important for people to bring babies to Him to be touched. He speaks of children instead of infants (παιδία – “paidia,” instead of βρεφη – “brephay”) and He’s referring to what they do of their own free will, not of what parents do to them. He’s turning this into a teachable moment.
In fact, the analogy here is wondrously accurate, but it’s with the parents, not the kids. They are coming to Jesus with exactly this child-like attitude He commends. They don’t know of any underlying mechanism for why this is a good idea; they just do it.
But the emphatic negative here is important. There’s a similarity between the disciples’ attitude and that of the Pharisees. They’re overthinking things. They don’t see how simple it all is.
We do this too. While it’s good to teach the details of the plan of salvation, we tend to think that understanding those details is how you get saved. The result isn’t faith in Jesus; it’s faith in the cross, or faith in a plan, or even faith in faith. Yikes again! Saving faith is faith in Jesus as Lord.
Consider the thief on the cross – who was, beyond doubt, saved. He didn’t know much, but he knew that Jesus’ was coming into His kingdom. That’s saving faith – faith that conforms to Romans 10:9.
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (NKJV)
And notice that the thief didn’t know that Jesus’ would conquer the cross through resurrection; his faith was even more childlike. He just knew that Jesus would still reign.
Now we know. Denying the resurrection now would be incompatible with confessing Jesus as Lord.
Ask God for simple faith. It’s OK to think hard to try to understand scripture, but praying for simple faith is different. Confessing Jesus as Lord means letting Him take over – wanting Him to take over. Ask God to teach us to rely on Him and not on ourselves.
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