“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3, NIV84)
Matthew records Jesus using the phrase, “I tell you the truth…” over 20 times in his gospel. Jesus used the phrase when making moral and spiritual judgments and when predicting what will happen in the future lives of His disciples and the nation of Israel. If you read just these verses, you can’t help but capture the authority that Jesus claims to have. There have been religious leaders throughout history who have claimed to know the truth. But Jesus not only claimed to know the truth, but to be the source of truth.
When speaking to His disciples about the kingdom of God, Jesus tells them that they will not enter it unless “they change and become like children.” You see, they were asking questions about God’s kingdom and the thought came up about the hierarchy within the kingdom. The disciples ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?”. To this Jesus brings a small child into their midst and tells them that they need to become like this child or they are at risk of not being in the kingdom. This is not just Jesus’ opinion. He says to them, “I tell you the truth…”. Even how one gets into the kingdom is defined and declared by Jesus.
So, what truth does He want His disciples to see? He wants them to know that mankind does not enter into the kingdom because of the great works they have done. They don’t enter the kingdom of God by their devotion and study. The truth is: they enter the kingdom of God because they have the faith of a child. A child’s heart understands that life is a gift and all that we have comes as a gift from outside ourselves. A child’s heart freely clings to God and His love even when they’re not visible. So, Jesus tells the disciples that they need to change and become like a child. The same is true for you and me. We need to change! We need the Word of God to make us born again and to transform our adult hearts to hearts of children.
Today, let’s have the faith of a child.