Text: Luke 18:15-34 | Listen to Message
Entering The Kingdom
Jesus, who is in the midst of teaching on the imminent coming of the kingdom of God and prayer, has a brief encounter with two groups of people.
The first is a group of infants and children whose parents are bringing them to Jesus, who is in the midst of teaching. Instead of dismissing the children, Jesus uses this encounter to illustrate how he wants his followers to enter the Kingdom of God: with childlike faith.
Jesus wants his followers to be totally dependent on Him for their faith — just as infants are totally dependent on their parents for virtually everything. Jesus points to them and says, “For to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Jesus goes on to say that his followers must receive the kingdom of God like a child.
Jesus is not calling his followers to act like children and have childish faith. He is not calling his followers to abandon reason and logic. He is not calling his followers to act childish. He is inviting his followers into a faith that ultimately rests on trust in God as Father, rather than in their own intellectual reason.
The second encounter is with a Rich Ruler who asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Whether this man was aware of what Jesus just mentioned or not (that the kingdom of God must be received like a child), the Rich Ruler is trying to earn his way into God’s kingdom.
Jesus takes this opportunity to expose the Rich Ruler’s idols, and asks him to give up the very thing he values most: his wealth. The Rich Ruler goes away saddened because his wealth has become his functional god, and he cannot bear to give it up. Jesus gives a stern warning to the listeners, then and now, that wealth poses an unquestionable danger to faith and discipleship.
Jesus also exposes that our external obedience must be predicated by a heart motivated by the Gospel to receive any commendation. Jesus commends Peter for his willingness to leave his family in order to follow him and declares that anyone who leaves what is comfortable for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded. In contrast to the Rich Ruler, who is motivated to obey the law and keep the commandments to earn his way into God’s kingdom, Jesus calls his followers to give up everything for the sake of the Gospel because they are in the kingdom of God.
Jesus then tells his disciples that he will soon be going to Jerusalem where he will suffer and die. This looming event serves as the reason for Jesus’ followers to give up everything. It is the substance for his followers’ childlike faith. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that enables, motivates, and empowers his followers to live the life that Jesus calls them to live.
Jesus now stands as Lord, God, Savior, and King. He alone is worthy of our lives, our worship. Faith in him is how we can enter into the kingdom of God.