“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10: 13-15; parallel accounts in Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17).
In this passage, Jesus lifts up children as examples of the nature of those who would enter His kingdom must possess. Notice He said “of such” is the kingdom of God. He is referring to “of this sort of character.” Also, one could not enter unless they received the kingdom “as” a little child. This is not describing “when” but “in that manner,” i.e. the qualities of a child. Like children, those that enter the kingdom would be:
Teachable. It has been rightly said many times that Christianity is a taught religion. We see this from the beginning in the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” See also Psalm 86:11; 2 Timothy 2:2.
Humble. As one is being taught, he must be like a child in humility to enter the kingdom (church, cf. Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus taught this on another occasion in Matthew 18:3-4, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” See also John 3:3-5; Micah 6:8.
Obedient. When a person is taught and has a humble spirit, they are required to exhibit a childlike obedience in order to enter into the kingdom. Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” See also 1 Peter 1:22-23; Hebrews 5:9.
Free From Sin. Children have no sin until the age of accountability. Until that time they are “safe.” After we become accountable, we have need of having our sins forgiven and not living a sinful lifestyle. Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
If one would be free from sin in order to enter the kingdom of God, they must humbly obey those things taught in the word of God: Believe, John 8:24; Repent, Luke 13:3; Confess Christ, Matthew 10:32; Be Baptized, Mark 16:16; Live Faithfully, Revelation 2:10.
Jerry D. Sturgill
via Flatwoods church of Christ