Luke 18:17
Truly I tell you, if anyone does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, he will never enter it."
Receiving the Kingdom of God as a Little ChildC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 18:17
The Child of Man and the Kingdom of GodW. Clarkson Luke 18:17
The Children of the KingdomR.M. Edgar Luke 18:15-30

Jesus Christ not only opened the gate of his kingdom to the little child as he opened his arms to the little children whom the mothers of Judah brought to him; he also took the little child as a type of the true disciple. He taught us that if we wish to enter his kingdom, our spirit must be the child-spirit. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as," etc. And what is this spirit? It is that of -

I. DOCILITY, or readiness to accept what is told us. The ideal child is teachable; it will learn because it is ready to receive; it has not found out the way of distrust and of rejection; it takes in the light, the truth, which is offered and it grows thereby. Men of mature years and powers, who have had all the advantages of Christian privileges, often stand without the kingdom because they will not receive the truth that is offered them; their mind is preoccupied with theories, systems, imaginations, of their own. They seem to know much; they believe they know much, for they are familiar with some things of which many (perhaps most) are ignorant; they could easily puzzle their neighbours by asking questions which these could not answer; they have a number of facts and laws, and a much larger number of names at their command; they "seem to be wise" (1 Corinthians 3:18). But their knowledge is very small in comparison with all that has to be acquired; it is partly (largely) local, temporary, evanescent (1 Corinthians 13:8); it is nothing to the wisdom of God. It becomes them, as it becomes us all, to feel toward God as our little children feel towards us - to cherish a spirit of docility. How much more he has to tell us than we have to teach them! How much greater is our ignorance in his sight than theirs is in ours! He who will not accept the doctrine of the Divine Fatherhood; he who will not yield himself to a Divine Saviour; he who will not pursue the path of holy service, hoping to find at the end of it a heavenly home, - because this does not square with some favourite theories, or because it transcends the range of some intellectual faculties, cannot enter the kingdom of truth, and therefore shuts himself out of the kingdom of God. We shall fail to stand on the first rung of the ladder that reaches heavenly wisdom unless we realize that we are all of us but very little children in the presence of our Father, and unless with docile spirit we come to his feet and say, "Lord, we are very ignorant; wilt thou teach us?"

"Lead us, O Father, in the path of truth;
Unhelped by thee, in error's maze we grope."

II. SIMPLICITY. The little child (of our thought and our affection) is simple, transparent, sincere; he says just what is in his mind, does not pretend he is naughty when he believes himself to be good - is real. This God demands of us - "truth in the inward parts," sincerity of spirit. It does not further our cause with him to affect a piety that is not genuine; to simulate a penitence of which our heart knows nothing; to use the language of humility while pride is reigning within. He would rather we tell him just what we feel, just what we are, than adopt the most appropriate confessions or petitions. We must be like the children of our home; we must mean what we say when we draw nigh to him.

III. TRUSTFULNESS. Christianity is a religion which centres in a Person, in one Divine Being. "He that believeth in me," "that abideth in me," - that is the prevailing note. Trust in Jesus Christ as the Teacher, Saviour, Sovereign of the human soul, is the way of life. He who has that stands within "the kingdom of God." Where shall we learn to trust? Is it not of the little child? As the child flees for refuge to its parent's arms, confides itself and all it has or hopes for to its parent's wisdom and love, so the human soul is invited to commit itself and all its everlasting interests to the Almighty Saviour, to say with implicit, childlike confidence and self-surrender -

"Jesus. Refuge of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly." C.

Receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
I. To begin with, let me deal with THE SECRET THOUGHT OF THE DISCIPLES, expressed by their actions though not spoken in words.

1. And, first, it is pretty clear that the disciples thought the children were too insignificant for the Lord's time to be taken up by them.

2. Again, I suppose that these grown-up apostles thought that the children's minds were too trifling. Despise not children for trifling when the whole world is given to folly.

3. "Ay," say they, "but if we should let the children come to Christ, and if He should bless them, they will soon forget it. No matter how loving His look and how spiritual His words, they will go back to their play, and their weak memories will preserve no trace of it at all." This objection we meet in the same manner as the others. Do not men forget?

4. Perhaps, too, they thought that children had not sufficient capacity.

5. To put the thought of the apostle into one or two words: they thought that the children must not come to Christ because they were not like themselves — they were not men and women. The child must not come to the Master because he is not like the man. How the blessed Saviour turns the tables and says, "Say, not, the child may not come till he is like a man, but know that you cannot come till you are like him. It is no difficulty in the child's way that he is not like you; the difficulty is with you, that you are not like the child." Instead of the child needing to wait until he grows up and becomes a man, it is the man who must grow down and become like a child.

II. Now we pass to our second head, namely, THE OPEN DECLARATION OF OUR LORD, wherein He sets forth His mind upon this matter,

1. Looking at it carefully, we observe, first, that He tells the disciples that the gospel sets up a kingdom. Was there ever a kingdom which had no children in it? How then could it grow?

2. Next, our Lord tells us that the way of entering the kingdom is by receiving. "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." We do not enter into the kingdom of God by working out some deep problem and arriving at its solution; not by fetching something out of our. selves, but by receiving a secret something into us. We come into the kingdom by the kingdom's coming into us: it receives us by our receiving it. Now, if this entrance into the kingdom depended upon something to be fetched out of the human mind by study and deep thought, then very few children could over enter it; but it depends upon something to be received, and therefore children may enter,

3. The next thing in the text is that if we receive this kingdom, and so enter into it, we must receive it as children receive it.

III. THE GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT given by our Lord in the text.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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