June 1

Text: Matthew 18:2-5

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me . . .” (NASB)

Among the first things I was taught in chemistry studies was that I always should identify the unknowns—never assume anything.  That also is a wise admonition for searching for the meaning of a scripture in the Bible. It is popular to assume a lot in understanding this scripture.

For example, we assume the child’s age.  We assume no bad children existed in Jesus’ time.  We assume today’s children are exactly like that child.  We assume that Jesus’ lesson focused on childhood rather than the environment of being a child then.

Among the common people of Jesus’ day, nothing on the totem pole of human life was lower than a child.  A child had no rights and no status.  (Why was the child Jesus so unusual in Luke 2:47?  Why was a child (an heir) no different from a slave in Galatians 4:1, 2?)  A child was not expected to have insight or understanding because the child had no experience.  The child had much to learn!  Societies had no compulsory education!  Then age meant experience and insight—therefore age was everything!

A child did not challenge nor advise adults in the adult world.  The child’s job was to learn!  Learning meant yielding!  NOBODY wished to be a child—childhood was a time to be left behind!

Today it is not uncommon for children to run things, determine family schedules, control family spending, and powerfully influence indebtedness.  Many today enjoy “the perks” of childhood so much that they deliberately stay at home after becoming adults.

Generally, children in Jesus’ time were humble learners without status.  While adults did not value those qualities, Jesus said those qualities were the avenue to greatness in his kingdom.

Suggestion for reflection: Is teaching you a difficulty or a joy?  (Read Psalm 119:1-8.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell