Summary: What did Jesus really mean when He said we must become like little children?

Finding the Lost World of Wonder

Matthew 18:1-6 and Matthew 19:13-15

The past few months have been very interesting for me. As many of you know, Charity and I have been student teaching this past semester. It was the last hoorah before we were able to graduate. At the onset of the semester, we were given the first school and grade level we were to be placed at. As it turned out, Charity and I both were in 4th grade.

Now the middle school age groups are more my comfort zone, but I thought I could handle 4th grade and, thankfully, I did. It was a great experience, the students were great, and I felt very comfortable with the age group.

We spent 7 weeks with the 4th graders and then prepared to move on to our next placement. I didn’t know what grade I had until I walked on to the TN Tech campus at Cookeville and received the white sheet of paper that spelled out my fate for the next seven weeks. My eyes quickly scanned the paper until at last I found the grade level I was going to be placed with. To my utter shock, it was the age group I feared the most…1st grade.

Charity was rejoicing, this is what she loves, and I was making the decision to switch majors. But I went in with both feet forward. And I can confidently say that after spending 7 weeks with the little first graders, I can declare that I would still never want to teach first grade.

Throughout this time I was treated to new adventures that I had not witnessed before with such great quantity. The young 6 and 7 year olds would run up to me or raise their hands and say things like, “He has 2 pencils on his desk and he’s only suppose to have one. She won’t stop looking at me. He bumped into me. He took my place in line. He won’t play with me.” And the list goes on and on and on.

I became frustrated. After all, I was a student teacher. I had bright ideas. I was ready to teach these children and cause their minds to be set on fire with curiosity and interest in all sorts of things they had never dreamed about. And here I was, tying shoes, sharpening pencils, replacing glue sticks, and trying to solve the tragedies that came into their lives—even if only it was having 2 pencils on a desk instead of just one.

But the more I have been around children--this young group of 1st graders, the kids here at the Church, and other kids, the more I have tried to watch them. For quite sometime I have tried to figure out what exactly Jesus our Lord was talking about when He told His disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven didn’t belong to the ones who held the heaviest sword, conquered the most land, made the most money, or acted the most happy, but the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to children.

This was especially striking given the circumstances of the time in which Jesus’ Disciples lived. Children were not highly regarded. Children were often viewed as mischievous, uneducated, unintelligent, and inadequate. After all, Jesus had the highest ranking Rabbis, leaders of the Law, Sadducees, and Pharisees clamoring for His attention, insight, and solutions to history old problems.

Why would Jesus have time for children with this flurry of attention from the “elite” of society? Apparently, the Disciples thought Jesus didn’t have time. Obviously not learning their lesson from Matthew 18, they were rebuking the children as they came to Jesus.

Then the real kicker comes in: Not only does Jesus tell the Disciples to allow the children to come to Him, Jesus says the Kingdom of God belongs to these children.

Jesus had a way of taking the cultural norms and turning them on their heads. The Disciples were undoubtedly shocked at this turn of events. They were eagerly awaiting the day that Jesus would start a holy revolt and destroy the Romans and anyone else who dared to stand in Jesus’ way. After all of this, they were waiting for Jesus to stride into a massive temple or palace and be crowned as the King.

Of course, the Disciples naturally expected, since they were part of Jesus’ inner circle, they would have very powerful positions of authority in this new Kingdom to beat all kingdoms. The next logical question the Disciples had was, “boys, there are 12 of us and we can’t all be number one, so which one of us will be the greatest?”

The Disciples just didn’t yet get what the Kingdom of God was about, so Jesus gave them a living object lesson in the form of a child.

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