Luke 18:16, “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” If life in the Kingdom belongs to these, then what kind of insight can we gain from this passage? The story right before this is about the Pharisee and the publican. The one thanks God that he is holy (basically) and the other asks God to have mercy on him as a sinner. Jesus says, the sinner went away justified. Why? Due to his humility.
This kingdom once again is what Jesus is ushering in through his life and ultimately through his death. The kingdom is for the least of these, and the poor in spirit, explained in the previous blogs. And as we just saw this kingdom even belongs to little children. Jesus is sharing with us some deep secrets to his kingdom again, as he has been doing so throughout his entire ministry. The kingdom of God belongs to the humble, the poor, the young; to all who have a lowly state in society. This kingdom is not for those who believe they are worthy, but really the antithesis: unworthy. We have journeyed through seven separate blogs to demonstrate why Jesus lived and how this is an important aspect of the gospel. The gospel message about the kingdom of God, was and is handed over to the disciples, and to us. Returning to what was asked at the end of the previous blog, what does life look like in the kingdom?
I do not believe that this question is difficult to answer and imagine for many of us , following along in this series, it becomes self -evident. “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3).” The disciples ask him at this point are you going to establish your kingdom? Jesus replies it’s the Father who knows the appointed time. The question really they are asking is when is your permanent kingdom coming. Jesus then follows there question with a very familiar statement. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8). This alludes back to Luke chapter 9&10 and a very similar command. To go out and tell the good news of Jesus. This gospel has adapted somewhat, for Jesus has died and rose again, albeit, the message of the kingdom is still part of what they are sharing. We will have to move forward in the book of Acts to see what this really meant.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved (Acts2;42-47). ”
This is a very familiar passage for most of us, and tracing the path that led to this occurrence, this seems precisely the life Jesus demonstrated for us when he lived. The poor are being taken care of, the sick being healed, and unity coalesced with humility is directed toward everyone. It appears that the kingdom that Jesus continued to show through his life is beginning to take shape in his absence. This coincides with the disciples command in Acts 1:8, and also Luke 9&10. Kingdom life is represented right here in the beginning of the church.
As you continue to read through the book of Acts, kingdom life is messy, and it takes great sacrifice, but this is what they were (and us) called to. To present a gospel that Jesus is alive, but also that he lived and died to establish a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In our context this means, giving others hope not just for when they die, but hope also for when they live. In other words, the kingdom Jesus established can be participated in, even now in the present. The life in his kingdom is others focused, it is not selfish, it is not for strictly the rich, or for those who got it all together. But for the poor in spirit, the humble, the outcast, and the powerless. Life in the kingdom gives purpose and an abundant life, filled with family, and expressed in love. It gives hope to the hopeless, peace to the peace-less , food for the hungry, and joy for the sorrowful. Everyone should be held in high esteem, and the unity of Jesus holds us all together.
The kingdom of God is a beautiful picture, and not sharing this piece of the gospel, gives us an easy way out. That is, if we share only about a future kingdom and not a present one, it allows us to forget the sacrifice we should make for others. Making sure that they have no need, and misunderstanding this, has led to selfish autonomous Christians. Who ultimately, give hope for people when they die, but no hope for when they live. Translated…telling people about the cross, but being unwilling to carry a cross for another.
‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”