“Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child.” Matthew 18:2-4, NCV.
From the earliest age, parents begin teaching their child the way to maturity. Of course, each milestone has an appropriate approach. No one expects a newborn to read, write, or understand the same level as a six-year-old. And no one expects a six-year-old to reason in the same way a sixteen-year-old might. I especially remember my grandchildren as they came along, each one amazing me with their abilities (okay, I know…what grandparent is not amazed with their offspring?).
Jesus often spoke of things that confounded His listeners. When He told the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), the learned teacher understandably asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (4).
Views on conflicting and contentious topics in the modern world are not lacking in quantity; one need only read or listen to the news to agree on this one truth. Being able to decipher the facts and understand whatever topic is being addressed, I sometimes think requires a scholarly education! The irony must not be lost, however, when Jesus uses a little child to demonstrate the “requirements” for entering the kingdom of heaven, something I think to which most people aspire. In contrast, He highlights one of the most educated and respected religious leaders of the day to explain, that it is not about what you know, rather who you know that opens heaven’s door.
Faith in Jesus is simple enough for a child to grasp and profound enough to confound the most intellectual individual. This is a paradox where every human heart must begin the journey to eternal life.