The children of the kingdom.
During the progress of the King towards Jerusalem, his personal influence and benediction were greatly valued. It would seem that mothers brought their children to him to be blessed, and ended by producing the very little ones. The disciples thought the line should be drawn somewhere, and so ventured to forbid the anxious mothers, only, however, to receive the significant rebuke from him, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." We are thus introduced to the important principle that—
I. CHILDLIKENESS IS THE QUALIFICATION FOR GOD 'S KINGDOM . ( Luke 18:15-17 .) Now, that is only another way of stating that God's government is paternal, and that his subjects are sons. It is, in fact, "a mighty family" of which he is himself the Head. It is when we recognize in him our Father, and are prepared to accept as little children all he sends, and to do all he commands, that we truly belong to his kingdom. Hence the two characteristics specially brought out are
It is thus we are to test ourselves. Do we trust God our Father as little children trust their fathers according to the flesh? and do we obey our heavenly Father as little ones obey their earthly parents? Then are we in the kingdom.
II. CHRIST EXPECTS THE RICHEST RULER TO TRUST AND TO OBEY HIM LIKE A LITTLE CHILD . ( Luke 18:18-27 .) We have here an interesting case of anxiety, and how Christ dealt with it. And here we have to notice that:
1 . Neither his wealth nor his position satisfied the young ruler. Something more was needed. The heart cannot content itself with either rank or gold. Hence his anxiety to lay hold on eternal life, which he felt was something more than he had yet obtained.
2 . He fancied he could entitle himself to it by a stroke of public service. Hence his inquiry, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" His notion was that he could claim it as a right, if he could only tirol out the additional duty he felt able to discharge.
3 . Jesus destroys with a single stroke his overestimate of human nature. The flattery of human nature coincides with self-esteem. The young ruler believed in his own goodness and capabilities, and he complimented Jesus as "good Master," because he believed in the existence of any number of good men—himself, of course, included. Now, Jesus will not accept a false compliment. Human nature is not good; and it is not as a mere man that he is going to receive such flattery. Hence he tells the ruler that there is no mere man good; that God alone is good. There is here no repudiation of goodness as belonging to himself, but simply a repudiation of goodness as an attribute of unaided humanity.
4 . Jesus insists on examination of past conduct in the light of the Divine Law. He asks the young ruler if he has kept the second table of the Decalogue, and been dutiful to his fellow-men. Looked at from without, the self-sufficient mind imagines it is a simple thing to keep the Law. But when for "law" we substitute "love," the self-examination does not so assure us. Meanwhile the young ruler is strong in the belief that he has kept the whole Law.
5 . Jesus now demands, as a test of his trust in him, the surrender of his riches to the poor, and the subsequent following of him. The demand was for faith. When we consider that Jesus was apparently but a poor artisan, then, unless the young ruler would absolutely and implicitly trust him, he would never think of obeying his demand. The result proved that he was not yet ready to trust Jesus. He trusted his money more! Hence his sorrow as he leaves the Lord. And herein lies the money-danger. It bids for the trust of the soul. Moneyed men find it hard to trust any one more than money. They think it only natural that they should feel independent. But if money leads men away from Jesus, it is a curse, and not a blessing. When tempted to be covetous, let us remember that money has its special dangers, and makes it harder and even impossible for some to enter into God's kingdom.
6 . Jesus, while stating the difficulty which rich men find in entering God ' s kingdom, shows that God manifests his great power in saving some of them. Money is such a barrier that we might well despair of the salvation of any rich men. Poor men have a chance. They have so little that they dare not trust in it, but in God only. But the rich man is tempted to trust in the uncertain riches, and leave God out of the account. But for this very reason God magnifies his grace in saving some rich men—in saving some in spite of all their temptation to trust in their abundance. A rich yet real believer is a splendid illustration of the grace of God. He sees through his riches and forbids them to come between his soul and his Saviour.
III. CHRIST INDICATES THE RECOMPENSE AWAITING ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SACRIFICED . THEIR ALL FOR HIM . ( Luke 18:28-30 .) Peter, as spokesman for the others, asks Christ what they shall have, seeing they have sacrificed their worldly positions to follow him. They thought that they should have some recompense. Nor were they mistaken; for Christ shows that they shall have:
1 . A recompense in kind in this world. Often when a home is left for the sake of Jesus, a happier home is found in the midst of the Lord's work. When rich prospects are renounced for the Saviour's sake, unexpected recompense comes round in the shape of riches. When relatives are resigned that Christ's cause may be promoted, new relations spring up around the devoted soul and bring compensation. And the spirit of loving appreciation which appropriates all things makes ample amends for all our self-denial for our Saviour ( 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ).
2 . A recompense in the world to come in the shape of eternal life. So that self-denial, self-renunciation, becomes the path to the life eternal. The opportunity of living in God and for God awaits all sincere souls in the other life, and satisfies them. Let us consequently rejoice in hope of the glory, and have grace to fear no evil.—R.M.E.
Jesus and the children. The young ruler refuses to give up his riches. The Lord speaks of the reward of them that leave all for his sake.
And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God . Yes, impossible, the Divine Teacher repeated, from a man's point of view; impossible from the platform of legal obedience on which the young ruler ( Luke 18:21 ) had taken his stand, or the Pharisee in his prayer ( Luke 18:11 , Luke 18:12 ); but it was not impossible with God. He might give this salvation as a perfectly free gift, utterly undeserved, perfectly unmerited, as he did to the prodigal son when he returned, or to the publican when he beat his breast in almost voiceless mourning, or still more conspicuously, not many days later, to the penitent thief dying on the cross.