The Unrelenting Faith of a Child
“1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-5 NIV
The disciples were arguing in Matthew 18 over who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Maybe it was Eljiah or Enoch who never really died. Could it be Moses who parted the Red Sea and led the people out of Egypt? The greatest in the Kingdom might be King David the brave or King Solomon the wise. Could it be Peter, whom Jesus called the “rock” upon whom the church would be built? Maybe the greatest was Matthew because heaven surely needed tax collectors (after all, there probably aren’t many of those in heaven). It could be John, because he was surely the youngest coolest guy of the group. It seems that the disciples could each have had an argument as to why they were to be the greatest in the Kingdom. Surely, they thought, Jesus could settle this. So they ask.
Jesus stops them and answers the question of “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Now if I were Jesus, which I am not, I would have said, “Look guys, the greatest in the kingdom is ME! Now be quiet and follow Me!” Instead Jesus turns their attention to a little child near to him. Their heads must have bowed in embarrassment and their eyes must have looked down when they heard Him say, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus challenges them to have the faith of a child.
The other day, I read a bible story to Josiah and Grace about the man who Jesus encountered who was blind from birth and wanted to see. Jesus spit in the mud, mixed it with a finger, took the mixture off the ground and smacked into the eyes of the blind man. Next Jesus told him to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash.
The man obeyed what Jesus said and went to wash his face. When he went and washed in the pool as Jesus said, he came home seeing! His blindness was healed in this unusual miracle found in John 9.
“1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” John 9:3-7 NIV
My 7 year old son Josiah was so excited after hearing this story, and I didn’t quite understand why. I mean, I am a Pentecostal and we are supposed to get excited reading the Word of God, but I didn’t put together why Josiah was so excited. He was virtually bouncing off the bed. “Daddy, daddy!” he yelled out as if he had just found a great answer. “The next time I see Aunty Sharon (our blind aunty), I’m going to spit in the mid and rub it in her eyes and she is going to see again!”
I laughed and was quick to remind Josiah that that was a miracle that Jesus performed and that we should not do the same thing to Aunty Sharon. After all, I don’t think anyone would really appreciate having a mixture of mud and spit rubbed in their face!
As I was telling Josiah about how the mud and spit in Aunty Sharon’s face would not be a good idea and how we should pray for her healing instead, it began to make me upset that I was seemingly overriding the scriptures!
Josiah was the one who heard the word and believed it wholeheartedly! He had the faith of a child. I had the faith of a crusty, old, intellectual type! Josiah was the one who didn’t doubt at all that what Jesus did then, He could do now! I was the one intellectualizing it, and trying to make sense of how Jesus did what He did, and moreso, I was teaching my son to NOT be so quick to trust what the Word of God says!
I’m not sure how to address it when the faith of a 7 year old dwarves the faith of a master’s level seminary student!
Maybe this is why Jesus says that the greatest in the Kingdom is not the most educated, the most theologically sound, the most popular, or even the most spiritual. Maybe this is why Jesus says in verses 3-5, ““Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
I can try to exegete the text or draw out the hermeneutical meanings from the text. I can read into the context of the passage to determine who the author of the text was and whom he was writing to, but the Holy Spirit reminded me through Josiah me that I would do well to learn to hear the Word, and believe it! It is plain and simple. I know that may sound too simple, but when Jesus says to become like “little children” maybe He is telling me that I need to keep it simple too. When Jesus says to become like “little children”, maybe I need to have less “smarts” and more faith. Jesus says to become like “little children” maybe I need to have less rationale and more of an unwavering belief that God does what He said He did and that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Lord I believe, but help my unbelief. With my master’s degree level education, I pray for the elementary level faith of Josiah. Increase that in me. Lord I want to believe less in what the world tells me and more of what Your Word tells me. I want to see less of what I think, and more of what You know. Amen.