12th May 2023
Read - Mark 10:13-16
Message Alan Burke
It is less than a week ago since the Coronation of Charles as King of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, in total Charles is King of 15 countries. When we think of kingdom what we often think of is the United Kingdom. In Scripture the idea of the Kingdom is something far more wonderful than any earthly kingdom can compare to. Jesus said to the disciples after they had rebuked those bringing their children; “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”(14-15).
The Kingdom of God is something that we have thought on before in Mark’s gospel, in fact throughout Scripture God’s people were being directed to the hope of the coming king and the coming kingdom. This King would be their Messiah, the Christ, both King and Redeemer. The hope was that again God’s people would live under his rule and blessing just as Adam and Eve had in the garden of Eden.
Although the expectation of the people of God in Jesus day did not quite line up with the teaching of scripture. They were eagerly awaiting an earthly kingdom and rule, like that of David’s reign once more when God would free them from Roman Rule. But the kingdom of God that Jesus spoke is not like that kingdom of David or any earthly kingdom. As Jesus taught at the beginning of Mark’s gospel (1:15) when he had said the kingdom of God is near, the kingdom was near because their King was among them, for he was with them, and as he taught just before the crucifixion when questioned by Pilate Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36) because it’s fulfilment was yet to come.
We have been given the King, Jesus and by his Spirit he gives to his people life bringing us into the kingdom. It means that we who are Christ’s who have responded to the gospel are citizens of heaven, we have heavenly citizenship by the fact that we have received Christ, this kingdom is thusly here and now because of the salvation that has been brought to the people of God who are under his rule, who are given citizenship of the kingdom of God through faith. While the kingdom of God is already here as we are citizens of that kingdom, it is not yet been brought to its climx, for the kingdom is now but it is not yet because we await the fulfilment of that kingdom. Here on earth we are citizens of that kingdom, we remain sojourners and exiles, we are awaiting the return of the King Christ to judge the living and the dead. (Rev 11:15).
And these little children Jesus tells his disciples not to hinder for it belongs to such as these. How is that? Well the little children who were brought to Jesus could do nothing for themselves, just as when we were children and came into his world. The parallel account in Luke’s gospel uses a different word rather than little children, it is the word which means babies. Babies are totally dependant on others, whether a parent or a guardian, they are dependant on another. We are dependant wholly on the work of God, we receive faith which is a gift from God, we can’t earn his favour we can’t earn salvation and we can’t keep ourselves in the kingdom by our works, but we receive salvation as a gift from God. Children are the model that is used here because they have nothing to bring, they are dependant on another and entering into the kingdom of God is a gift for we have nothing to bring and is dependant on his great love which he lavishes on us in Christ Jesus it is only when we know this, accept it to be true can we be part of the kingdom.
Q44 What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments. (Luke 1:74–75, 1 Pet. 1:15–18)