Christmas and the Kingdom of Heaven are for children. I think this is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he “must be born again.” As the old wise teacher, rabbi, Pharisee that he was, he needed to back off all the adult learning and philosophy of the day and just have faith. It’s often true that when children grow up and leave home they lose their faith. The secular world resists and often rejects anything beyond what can be scientifically demonstrated or proven. But most of the important things in life are not a matter of science or math. They are a matter of faith. There are some things science cannot reproduce; origins, historical data, or matters of the heart. Many of these truths must be taken as a matter of faith. This is why the Kingdom of heaven is also a matter of faith. Paul makes it clear that we are saved “by grace through faith, not of works.” I believe this may have been Jesus’ focus when he said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The disciples repelled the children who were brought to Jesus, but Jesus insisted that they be brought to him because the kingdom of heaven consisted of such as these. In Luke 18:15 we read; “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them…” At a time when the infant mortality rate was so high and that childhood diseases often meant death, many children and infants were brought to Jesus for healing. In his commentary on Luke, Butler writes, “This marks off God’s ways from men’s ways. God deals always with the little ones, the unknown ones, the powerless ones. The world seeks people of power, influence, and wealth. God seeks the children. God builds his kingdom on childlike characteristics: trust, love, innocence, lack of power, lack of pretension, lack of credentials. God wants children whom he can make into disciples, not power brokers whom he has to steer away from political and military expectations.”

But you will notice that Jesus took this teaching further. He did not suggest that childlikeness was one possible way; rather, he said it was the only way! Butler goes on to say, “Being like a child is the only way to kingdom living. If you cannot do away with your pretensions, your greed, your claims to fame, your need to dominate and control, your grasp for identity and power, you cannot be part of Christ’s kingdom. Christ constantly seeks those who have no hope of power and position: the poor, Samaritans, women, children, blind, crippled, lame, tax collectors. These lack the vanity and self-assurance that keep a person from entering the kingdom.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15