“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” — Matthew 19:14 (NIV84)
When we think of religious beliefs and organizations, we tend to view them with a worldly kingdom perspective. The disciples once asked Jesus about what makes one great in the kingdom of God. Jesus had to correct their perspective and tell them that if they didn’t have the faith of a child they wouldn’t even enter the kingdom. Here the disciples were vying for greatness, and Jesus suggested that more of their energy should be on admission. The same is true with this verse. Great religious teachers and leaders didn’t have time to be messing with moms and their babies. What good could come from wasting the Master’s time by having babies thrust into His arms to bless? There were adults that needed to hear the Master teach about the kingdom of heaven. The unasked question in all of this is, “Who is included in/excluded from the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus became angry with His disciples and stated that they must let the children come to Him. “Do not hinder them” are the words that came from Jesus’ mouth. Do not stand in the way of these babies and young children and the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because “the kingdom of God BELONGS to such as these.” Jesus clearly tells us that children are not excluded from the kingdom. As a matter of fact, they already belong. Even children can have saving faith in the God of the kingdom of heaven. As you can see, the kingdom of heaven is an inclusive place. People of every age, race, and language are included in God’s kingdom. I challenge you to search the scriptures, but you will not find more than one criteria for membership in God’s kingdom. And that is faith. One must have faith like a child. One must trust in God’s Word no matter what. One must receive and believe in Jesus who has come to reveal the kingdom of heaven to us.
This should cause us all to reflect on the ministries of our churches. Are their any groups we are excluding by our practices? Are there criteria other than faith that we burden our members with as requirements for entering the kingdom of heaven? May we each hear and respond to Jesus’ words, “and do not hinder them.”