*What can Christians learn from infants?
*What is conversion?
*What did Jesus say we must do to inherit eternal life?
*What is true service in the sight of God?
*What did Jesus say about paying the tribute money?
Continuing on the theme of humility, Jesus instructs us by the following example. “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer 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 shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:15-17). The disciples had the viewpoint that children are unimportant, that they amount to very little since they have little influence. They felt that Jesus should not be troubled by this matter. Not so! Jesus felt there was a good lesson to be learned by this wrong perception. He said that unless one has the humble, unassuming, and teachable attitude of a child, he cannot enter into God’s kingdom.
Unless one is humble, willing to learn and to be corrected, he will not receive the instruction and make the personal changes required for salvation. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew eighteen.
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 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 (Matt. 18:1-4).
Two things must take place before one can be a candidate for the Kingdom of God. One, we must be converted; and two, we must become as little children. Conversion means an entire change of mind has taken place in one’s life, so that the hostile attitude or “don’t care” attitude most human beings have toward the Law of God (Rom. 8:7) has been completely altered and one’s life is now spiritually oriented. There has been an acknowledgment of sin, a turn around in one’s orientation, and a complete humbling of the self. Arrogance and self-will no longer exist. One has become as a child before God. A child’s complete dependence rests with its parents. In like manner one who has become as a child before God places his complete dependence upon the blessings and kindness of God. God has now become the most important factor in one’s life, and the desire to do the will of God takes precedence over all human desires that are contrary to God’s law. Greatness in the sight of God is humbling the self. It means to recognize the power of God and the utter helplessness of man. The Apostle Paul said we should be children in the following manner: “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20). What Jesus said needs to be repeated. “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17).
The next teaching of Jesus is found in Luke eighteen, beginning in verse eighteen. “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). This is the fundamental question everyone would like to have answered. How did Jesus reply? “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother” (vv. 19-20). Jesus did not comment upon the first four of the Ten Commandments because, according to the letter of the law, the Jewish society of that day was meticulous in observing them. Where the Jews fell down was in the last six-how to treat one’s fellow man. This was why Jesus emphasized these. The young man replied, “. . . All these have I kept from my youth up” (v. 21). “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (v. 22). Jesus was actually inviting this young man to become one of his disciples. And how did this rich young man respond? “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich” (v. 23). What was Jesus’ response? “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (v. 24). This young man made a choice, but it was the wrong one. He failed to realize that physical prosperity lasts only as long as one lives. Spiritual prosperity lasts for eternity. The lesson here is emphasized in Matthew, chapter six. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). And again, “. . . the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Prov. 1:32). “. . . Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24).
Jesus, then, told His disciples, “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:25-26). Success, in the eyes of God, is not the accumulation of wealth; it is building the necessary character to enter into the Kingdom of God. Answering His disciples’ query about who can be saved, Jesus said, “. . . The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (v. 27). Peter, then, replied, “. . . Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (vv. 28-30). The lesson here is that man must come to recognize there is only one worthwhile choice in life-seeking the Kingdom of God above all else! Clearly, one whose life is wrapped up in the material quest of wealth has made the wrong choice!
Another beneficial teaching of Jesus is found in Mark, chapter ten. “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory” (Mark 10:35-37). Why would they make such a request? The answer: They knew what Jesus had said, “. . . Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). These two disciples wanted a preferential position. They were very much aware of His promise and wanted to be in the top positions. What was Jesus’ reply?
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared (Mark 10:38-40).
How did the rest of the disciples react to this request? “And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John” (v. 41). Jesus, then, stepped in and gave this instruction. “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (vv. 42-44). The true minister, Jesus said, is the one who serves the most, not the one who lords it over others. He, then, cited His own example and the reason for His being on the Earth. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (v. 45).
The Jews constantly tried to trap Jesus into saying something they could use against him. An example of this begins in Matthew, chapter twenty-two, verse fifteen.
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? (Matt. 22:15-17).
Jesus saw through their trickery immediately. They thought Jesus would be forced to give an answer that would trap Him no matter what He said.
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s (Matt. 22:18-21).
What is the lesson here? The lesson here is that the inscription on the coin denotes who is in power. Caesar’s inscription made Caesar the governor or ruler. What Caesar demands Caesar gets, Jesus said. His tax demands will be met one way or the other. So, give Caesar his due. Whoever uses Caesar’s coin automatically acknowledges that he is under the authority of the image that is on that coin. Give Caesar his due, Jesus said, but also give God His due. These Pharisees had no reply. “When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way” (Matt. 22:22). First, then, paying taxes is not wrong. Second, we should respect the civil authorities and not rebel in any manner contrary to peace and order.