15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
In Luke’s narrative, Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, exposing the sin of judgmental self-righteousness, while honoring the humble heart that pleases God (Lk. 18:9-14). A real-life illustration now follows, demonstrating the humility required to receive and enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were rebuking people who brought their small children, including infants, to Jesus to be blessed. Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples’ conduct (Mark 10:13-14). The kingdom of God is composed of those with the innocent humility of children (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). Not only does this passage destroy the false doctrine of inheriting original sin, it also establishes the heart condition one must have to be saved. The Lord will not bless the arrogant, self-righteous person with redemption. Be careful with what heart you try to follow Jesus. It is the one with the heart of a child who receives the kingdom, and hence, the Lord’s eternal blessing.
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16, NKJV)
A dramatic shift occurred when John, the forerunner of Messiah, came on the scene. “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mk. 1:4). John proclaimed the good news of an approaching kingdom, and souls began pressing into it as they listened, learned, and “were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mk. 1:5). When Jesus began His work on earth, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). Jesus looked beyond the Law of Moses to the redemptive gospel of God. It is incredible to witness deceived preachers deceiving Christians into thinking that Jesus came teaching the law of Moses to the Jewish people. In today’s passage, Jesus affirms that He was not teaching Moses; He was teaching people to believe in the kingdom of God that He and His gospel brought and opened up to the whole world (Matt. 16:19, 28). Any doctrine that demands viewing Jesus as a rabbi who taught the Law of Moses instead of the gospel of the Messiah’s kingdom is false, and must be refused as the error it is.
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:15, NKJV)
Those who saw Jesus miraculously feed the multitude with five loaves and two small fish deduced from this sign that Jesus “is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jno. 6:14). But, they misunderstood the nature of the Messiah and His kingdom, supposing they could forcibly make Jesus king. Jesus removed Himself from their grasp, for His kingdom is “not of this world” (Jno. 18:36). It is truly sad that so many think Jesus will return to the earth in the future to be enthroned as king, when He has already rejected being made that sort of king. His kingdom is spiritual in nature (Lk. 17:20-21). His reign was announced and His kingdom began to be populated when His gospel was preached on the Pentecost following His resurrection (Mk. 9:1; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 36-41). The Messiah’s kingdom exists today; it is His church (Matt. 16:18-19). Instead of looking for a physical kingdom yet to be secured, the gospel proclaims that Christians compose the kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9). “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. (Mark 12:32–34, NKJV)
Notice the traits of this scribe whom Jesus said was “not far from the kingdom of God.” First, he accepted what Jesus said as the truth (v. 32). Secondly, he believed in the one, true God (v. 32). And thirdly, he acknowledged the primacy of loving God and one’s neighbor over giving God offerings without the presence of such love (v. 33). Yet, the man was not in the kingdom, he was near it. Even so, you may believe that Jesus spoke the truth, and that God is real. You may even profess love for God and show kindness to your neighbor. Yet, to actually enter the kingdom of God you must be born again (from above, Jno. 3:3-5). The new birth consists of water and the Spirit, being directed by the Spirit to be baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:26; 1 Pet. 1:22-23). Until you believe the Spirit’s word and are baptized, you may not be far from the kingdom – but you are not yet in the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 1:13-14).
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45–46, NKJV)
The supreme value of the kingdom of heaven is set before us in this familiar parable. We can see this merchant searching for beautiful pearls that would bring him a handsome profit in the marketplace. But when he found one pearl – only one – that was the most precious and valuable, he knew it was more valuable than anything else he possessed. And so, he sold everything he had and bought it. The lesson is simple, yet profound. The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything else you and I could ever acquire. Like the merchant, we must recognize its value, and then we must sacrifice everything else in order to possess it. Jesus explained how we possess the kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Full surrender. Complete sacrifice. Faithful obedience. See the surpassing value of the kingdom, and honor the King with all your being, every day. The pearl of great price is worth it all.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44, NKJV)
Entering the kingdom of heaven is likened to a man finding a buried treasure, who, with great joy and at great sacrifice, acquired the field and its treasure. The parables of Jesus hide the kingdom from the minds of those who are unwilling to receive His teaching (Matt. 13:11-15). But, like this hidden treasure, the kingdom is found by those whose hearts are made aware of its value and its availability. These will joyfully pay all – make every sacrifice necessary – to obtain the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. The rich young ruler reminds us of one who thought he wanted the kingdom blessings, but he was unwilling to make the sacrifice Jesus demanded (Matt. 19:20-22). The sacrifice one must make to enter the kingdom of heaven is worth it. Treasures in heaven will always be of far greater value than treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Does your heart see the kingdom of heaven as a great treasure that you must possess, whatever the cost?
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Our prayers should not only be about our needs and desires (Heb. 4:16). They should not only be supplications on behalf of others (1 Tim. 2:1-2). They should also be filled with adoration for our Heavenly Father. Reverent respect and regard for the Almighty ought to be evident in our manner of prayer (Matt. 6:9). Acknowledge the regal, royal, sovereign rule of our Father as we pray. It is precisely because He reigns supreme that we are impressed with His willingness to hear and answer our prayers. His eternal power, announced by His whole creation, assures us of His ability to act on our behalf. His majestic glory humbles us in His presence and impresses us of His love toward us, low as we are in comparison to His majesty (Psa. 8:4). As we pray, let us remember to whom we are addressing our petitions. This will help define our attitude in prayer as well as shape our faith in our Father to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).