Summary: The question many ask, but few find the answer to – how do I get to heaven? In this study we look at how Jesus says the get to heaven – and how we must become changed into a different nature to get there using the example of children – and of a rich ruler
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat is very small. A little girl in class stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, ’’When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.’’ The teacher asked, ’’What if Jonah went to hell?’’ The little girl replied, ’’Then you ask him’’.
Kids have some wild ideas about heaven and how to get there – but when it really comes down to it, they possess a secret that we all need. When it really comes down to it – this is the most basic question of all – how to get to heaven – or, really, how to live forever.
Men have searched for thousands of years for the fountain of youth – today we think that we’ve found it in cloning. Of course, cloning isn’t creating life, it’s just playing around with it once its created and scientists are finding some disturbing things about cloning that make it not so much the fountain of youth that it was once thought to be.
But we know that if we get to heaven we will live forever. Despite lots of evidence to the contrary, many people have some strange ideas about how to get there. Today we’re going to meet one – but before that happens, Matthew shares a short story of kids coming to Jesus – and its very instructive when compared to the encounter with the man who wants to know the way to live forever.
13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Children were thought of as very incidental in that society – and Jesus’ disciples apparently thought their Master’s time was worth more. You are probably aware that this part of the world was at that time a patriarchal society – men ruled the roost. Women were secondary – a distant second – and children were way way below that.
Who do you suppose brought these kids to the Lord? Probably their parents, perhaps. The word "children" here can mean anyone from babies to pre-teens. Imagine you are one of these parents – perhaps hoping that Jesus will bless your child – laying hands of blessing wasn’t uncommon – but children? The disciples, whose heads were at times still too big for their hat size – rebuked them. Now look at Jesus’ response.
14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
Notice that this is a double command – "let … [them] come" and "do not hinder them." Kids are sometimes a bother – demanding, impatient, scattered – ever try to have a prolonged conversation with a three year old? So even though we don’t treat children like they did in the 1st century – we still sometimes dismiss them – we have more important things to do than follow their scattered attentions. Not that we should just do whatever a child tells us – but we should take time to spend time with them – and learn from them.
Jesus wants them to come to Him and look what He says: "for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." There is something in these kids that reveals the way to heaven. We’ll look at what it is in a moment – but first another encounter – with someone who is not a child – but, as verse 22 tells us – was a "young man." This could mean anyone under 40 – folks – but was probably a youth who thought he had lots of assets, but really had nothing at all.
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
Notice this guy’s approach – he’s looking at heaven as something he can purchase, and as we’re going to see, was looking not so much for information but confirmation. Jesus, as usual, bears right in on the heart of the matter.
17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good.
Jesus is here referring to God – He is saying so much in that one little phrase "There is only One who is good."
Jesus is telling the man that goodness doesn’t come from him but from God