As our children get older, most of us would encourage them to be independent. We want them to think for themselves and not be so reliant on us to care for them. Such advice, though, is not appropriate when it comes to our relationship with God. As we saw with the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–8), God blesses the dependent who express their need of Him.
Jesus tells a story of a Pharisee who boasts in his own virtues and expresses no reliance on God (vv. 9–14). Then a tax collector comes to God with his hands empty. Yet he is the one who leaves right with God, for it is the humble who rely on God, who are exalted.
Then parents bring their children to Jesus, and He announces that unless we become like a little child, we will never enter the kingdom (vv. 15–17). He is not speaking about the innocent faith of children. He is talking about the essential mark of a child. Little children are dependent on their parents for everything: life, food, protection, home, and clothing. Their parents are the centre of their world, and the children are helpless without them.
That is why a child is the model of those who belong to the kingdom: they are helpless and completely dependent on their heavenly Father.
Jesus then meets a rich man who, like the Pharisee in the parable, affirms his goodness (vv. 18–21). Jesus tells him to give all his money to the poor. Of course, if he sells everything he owns, he will become dependent, like a little child. But he cannot do it. Again, we see that it is those who exalt themselves, who will be humbled.
Finally, Jesus meets a blind beggar (v. 35). If the rich man had everything you could want, this man had nothing. He knows all about dependence, for he spends his days begging. This man, with nothing to offer, asks Jesus for his sight and is given salvation. The humble are exalted.
Jesus is reminding us that the values of God’s kingdom are not those of the world. The world esteems the rich, important, and independent. God exalts the least, the beggar, the dependent. Remember, we must become like a little child.
In what ways do dependent children express what it means to be a member of the kingdom of God?
Why does Jesus say that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God?