It’s relevant to notice that Jesus said some words about receiving the kingdom of heaven as a little child right in between two very difficult teachings—teachings that were too hard for those to whom they were spoken. Here are the words of Jesus from Mark 10:
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
Just before that, Jesus had taught the still-disputed doctrine about how that second marriages, in cases where former partners are still living, are adulterous. That’s a hard teaching, both in the first century world and today. In fact, the strong wonder at the prohibition of remarriage was expressed, even by his own disciples, in the parallel passage, Matthew 19: 3-12. (That’s the passage in which Jesus does give the one exception for acceptable divorce and remarriage)
Then, following the statement about children and the kingdom comes the teaching to the rich young ruler about denying his possessions and following Christ—the teaching about surrendering all for the Lord. It was a teaching that made the ruler leave with a sad heart and in an undone condition before the Lord. It was just too hard.
Have you ever thought about why this little episode of the children coming to the Lord was included by the Holy Spirit right in between the difficult and demanding teachings—the life altering responsibilities commanded by the Lord?
Having spent the last few days with my grand-daughter Maggie, who is fifteen months old, I’ve been amazed by her sweet little spirit of compliance. Her eyes look at her parents like “What do you want me to do?” Her spirit is broken when they spank her (pretty gently) for inattention to their instructions or for momentary disobedience. They push her every single time to respond by saying “yes ma’am”or “yes sir.” They use those words each time already, although she is currently just nodding her assent, until she learns to form those words. But every single time she nods her submission and then is expected to proceed with obedience. It occurs to me that this is how, in a sense, she’s already receiving the kingdom. This is how we are to receive the kingdom; with unquestioning compliance and humility. And this is the opposite of the disposition of the Pharisees, who came in an attempt to entrap the Lord. This is the antithesis of the heart of the rich young ruler who walked away.
Here are five things about Maggie right now that are, in my judgment, characteristic of the hearts we are to have when receiving the kingdom:
- She’s always looking at her parents to see if they are near and if they are approving. Are you looking to your Father and desiring His approval?
- It’s often through tears that she nods her assent to the instruction that she, at first, failed to obey. Are you learning from the sorrowful consequences of sin?
- She often says the actual word “obey” when she’s thinking about the will of her parents. Do you meditate on submission as you strive to be holy?
- The Bible is the one book of which she already knows the title. Is the Bible the most important source of information in your life?
- When she hears the garage door open, she looks at her mother and says with excitement, “Dada?” She’s always looking for His coming. Are you watching for the coming?
And while we are at it, give some grace to this Mammy while she tells you a few more things that are pretty special about Maggie Joy Colley. Seriously, you don’t have to read. These are here so I can remember these precious Maggie/Mammy days.
- 5:50 a.m. is my favorite time with Maggie. No one else is up and so I can steal in and take her from the crib when she awakens and she comes to lay in my bed with me and we just talk about eggs and “bendas” (bananas) and apples (her first perfect two-syllable word, except “Mama” and “Mimi” and “Mammy”.) Do you notice a theme here in her morning conversation? Eating is her passion.
- She wants to wear my jewelry and my keys around her neck. She wants to be “big” like Mammy. Everything she wants is indicated by sign language. She signs the word “more”. That means so much more…than more. It means “I have a request. Can you try and figure out what it is?”
- She found a tiny little man drawn on the sticker inside her kiddie pool. He’s about a quarter of an inch tall and he is on that sticker to warn parents about the dangers of drowning in that little six-inch pool. She’s obsessed with that little man on that sticker and every morning she remembers to ask to go out and see “man”. If you don’t understand what “man” means, she leads you to the back door and points at that pool. (Can you see that tiny little sticker?)
- Everything including the counter, the bed, the scooter, the suitcase—everything you can get up on—is a “vroom-vroom”.
- She wants to choose which color diaper she wears. (Those cloth diapers do offer a much bigger variety these days.)
- She loves to look at my Plunder necklace that has my mother and me in a locket; only she points to my mother and says “Papa” over and over. Is there a resemblance between her late great-grandmother and Glenn? Hmmm.
- Her favorite book, and the only one of which she knows the title, is the Bible.
- Her favorite time of the day is Bible time, with the possible exception of every snack time. She loves any food that’s in a package.
- We take long walks together and when I point to the moon and say “Who made the moon?” she’s learned to answer “Dod did.”
- Her mother has emphasized that what the Bible says is that “Jesus loves Maggie,” so when we ask her what the Bible is about, she says “Me!”
- Her favorite animal is a dog. Her favorite thing to watch on TV (well, really her only thing) is classic Winnie the Pooh (just the 2.5 minute theme song, but she can boogie to that). Her favorite food group is fruit and she REALLY loves those fruit puree pouches. We may or may not have made a couple of impulse purchases while we were out shopping.
- She can stay quietly in a shopping cart for an extraordinarily long time, just looking at all the amazing things on shelves and racks, while pointing out all dogs and bendas and apples and vroom-vrooms.
- She has some “dog” house slippers. They are way too big for her feet, so I put them on over her real shoes. She waves at the dogs, in turn, once she gets them on her feet. Then she sticks her legs up under her high chair tray and feeds the dogs part of her breakfast. (Darcy, the real dog, loves that game!)
- Transferring items from one container to the other is her favorite activity.
- She’s perfect.