15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
Every time I heard someone comment on this passage when I was a teenager, they were trying to talk about some childlike quality that we needed to have in order to enter the kingdom of God. But it’s not some quality of children that is at issue here. Children are cute and adorable and innocent and trusting – but they are also selfish and cruel, willing to hoard their toys or bang another child on the head for frustrating their will. They are created in the image of God and, at the same time, sinners like the rest of us. No infant has ever thought to itself, “I’m hungry, but mother’s tired so I’ll wait.”
The key word here is ‘receive’. The kingdom is gift. The king is marching victorious into the royal city and summoning us into his parade. We have fought no battles, won no wars, earned no victories, deserved no favors. A new king has come and all welcome. All past deeds are set aside by royal pardon. All are invited to the royal feast. It’s gift. It’s gift. It’s entirely gift. There is no other way into the realm of grace.