YOU CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM UNLESS YOU BECOME LIKE A BABE
“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. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’”
(Matthew 18:1-6 - KJV)
“The Kingdom of Heaven” (aka, “The Kingdom of God” – which is used interchangeably throughout the gospels with the “Kingdom of heaven’s” usage juxtaposed to the Kingdom of God in that the Name of God was to be revered) has much to do with growth—from infancy to adult manhood . . . this aspect of the Kingdom we shall explore.
Now, let me be perfectly clear concerning this matter of “infancy”: This is not a Roman Catholic polemic on behalf of their understanding concerning the “baby Jesus” – however, this content would, I presume, be found to greatly enhance their enlightenment, and for that matter, at least all our understanding of the “infant Jesus” as used in Matthew 18:1-6, Acts 4:27, and Acts 4:30—the latter two references center on the word “Servant” or “Slave” (Grk: doulos) as used in most English translations or “Child” (Grk: teknon) in other translations, including the KJV.
Frankly, this “child” is neither the Greek words “teknon” (“a child” – Strong’s G#5043) or “teknion” (“a little child” – used always in the plural as found in Matthew 18:1-6) nor the traditional word for “servant” or “slave” (doulos – Strong’s G#1401—found in Acts 4). The Greek words used in both Matthew 18:1-6 and Acts 4:27, 30 (paida and paidos) according to Strong’s Concordance are derived from “paidion (pahee-dee-on--Strong's G#3813) – Paidion or paidia, a diminutive of pais, (1) signifying ‘a little or young child’; (1a) it is used of an infant just born” (as well—my comment).
I was somewhat amazed to hear Peter and John rehearsing the “threating” of the “rulers and elders and scribes . . . [along with] Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John and Alexander, and as many as were of the high-priestly family” (Acts 4:5-6) who when Peter and John “came to their own” (believers), when released, they had initially acclaimed the “name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene” before these authorities (Acts 4:10). Then they were admonished by these same political and religious authorities “to no longer speak on this name to any men . . . not to speak at all, nor to teach on the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:17-18). However, again, returning to their fellow disciples they acclaimed His name as “Your holy infant [paida – as per Strong’s G#3816 pais] Jesus” and that it was “through Your holy infant Jesus” that “healing and miracles and wonders” were wrought.
Those gathered upon the return of Peter and John announced the following account by reciting Psalm 2 as they addressed their prayers to Almighty God:
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one" (Acts 4:25-26; Psa. 2:1-2).
Clearly, what was foremost in the hearts and minds of the disciples that hour was the incursion of the Kingdom of His Beloved Son doing battle with the “kings of the earth” who had arisen to unite together as the “rulers” of the raging nations against His Christ, His anointed One.
Yes, “against His Christ” – but His Christ is clearly defined as domiciled “through Your holy infant Jesus.” The assembled spoke in this manner, as well:
“And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings, and give to Your servants (NKJV – or “slaves” KJV – Greek word used here is Strong’s G#1401 – doulois) to speak Your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). I insert “doulos” in contrast to “pais” to clearly delineate Luke’s account wherein he knew full-well the distinction between “servant-slave” and “infant-child.” Luke had both in “mind and spirit” a most profound truth: Something was being birthed into the world – a NEWBORN – the INFANT JESUS and both “Jew and Gentile” (Acts 4:27—Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Nations [ethnisi – “ethnicities”) and the peoples of Israel were gathered together against Your holy infant Jesus”); yes, were gathered together against this NEWBORN INFANT!
PETER & JOHN BEFORE RELIGIOPOLITICAL LEADERS
POLITICS & RELIGION . . . A word to the wise . . .
The “battle” had begun – the persecution had commenced in earnest – the disciples had been threatened, warned, not to speak further in this Name! Those assembled who heard Peter and John’s account turned to Psalm 2 and acclaimed that their opposers were gathering against the Lord Himself and against His Anointed One—the HOLY INFANT JESUS! They knew exactly what they were saying—a NEWBORN was being birthed—it was the beginning of something entirely new . . . it was the BIRTH OF THE INFANT JESUS! Why were the disciples in this initial outburst using such a term?
It is mandatory that we understand Luke’s amalgamation of this religiopolitical cabal set against the Holy Infant Jesus—the Anointed One. To blame but the Jewish religious leadership for the crucifixion of Jesus, without inculcating the political leadership of Rome, is a prejudicial preference that is historically false. The political leadership of the Nations were, as well, wholly set against His Anointed—the two, political and religious—were thick as thieves!
The concoction of religion and politics is, as was the case with King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, a similar admixture exposed by Elijah’s prophetic ministry—this witch’s brew conjured up by Jezebel placed the “sons of Belial” (1 Kings 21:10-KJV – i.e., two “scoundrels”) who accused Naboth (who would NOT sell his inheritance to King Ahab) for being against “God and Country” (i.e., “he [Naboth] has cursed both God and the king” – 1 Kings 21:10). Just as politics (King Ahab) and religion (Queen Jezebel and her Baal worship) had Naboth, a faithful Israelite, stoned—even so, did politics and religion crucify the Lord of Glory and commence their threatening of the disciples. Today, the “Woman rides the Beast” (Revelation 17) – we as believers should leave well enough alone; yet remain steadfast to our inheritance in Christ!
JOHN 16:19-22 – THE UPPER ROOM DISCOURSE
THE UPPER ROOM DISCOURSE – JOHN 13-17
Jesus, prior to His prayer in John 17, and throughout His Upper Room Discourse as recorded in John chapters 13-17, emphasizes “His going is His coming.” I believe it is here that if we connect the dots, we shall discover the words Jesus used to explain His “going and coming” to His disciples in the language of the NEWBORN:
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being (lit. “a man” – Strong’s G#444 – anthropos) has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:19-22–ESV).
Yes, “as soon as she has given birth to the child” – this “child” is the same Greek word used by the early Ekklesia in Acts 4:27, 29: παιδίον (paidion), which clearly in this context refers to an “infant” – i.e., a NEWBORN BABE.
In other words, Jesus was relating to His disciples concerning His soon-coming crucifixion would be a time of great sorrow likened to that of a mother giving birth to her infant; a human being, a MAN-CHILD. His going to the cross would be a most painful time for His disciples because an INFANT was being birthed into the world—once the babe, the infant, the human being, the man, was birthed, then immediately the mother would no longer remember[s] the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
Now, carefully examine the metaphorical language Jesus was using here. “You will weep and lament” – so who’s having the baby? Who is giving birth? Listen up: “. . . you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” Is it Jesus who is sorrowful or is it the disciples? Who’s giving birth? Careful! Are the disciples watching the birth or are they participating in the birth? From the sound of it—they are wholly (somehow) engaged in the birthing process. Jesus appears to be observing the painful birthing taking place in the disciples, who, like a mother in labor, are going through birth pangs—but that’s how Jesus is coming to them! His coming to them through death (the cross), burial and ultimate resurrection, would birth Himself as the infant Jesus into their midst—this would result in great joy. Not only joy that a NEW BORN has arrived but that this infant Jesus is now in their midst . . . but more so, the disciples are viewed by Jesus to be the very “joy” set before Him:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2).
Something – a NEW CREATION – a NEWBORN – THE INFANT JESUS – HIS JOY -was being birthed and they were to be the full expression of the JOY that was set before Him . . . they would be that JOY. Yes, this is the object of His JOY set before Him. I am persuaded that the ambiguity of these antecedents is purposeful and deliberate. Who is birthing? What is being birthed? Both the disciples and Jesus are rejoicing in the expression of this JOY! Is it the FIRSTBORN among many brethren? Is it the INFANT JESUS? Are His disciples witnessing their NEW BIRTH? The political and religious leaders are raging against His Anointed—but their anger is directed at the disciples—do we see the connection?
You see, the political and religious authorities thought they had gotten rid of this “Jesus” – but, BEHOLD: He’s alive forevermore! Now, no matter the sorrow and pain of crucifixion – notwithstanding how the “heathen raged and imagined a vain thing” – notwithstanding how the “kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together” against the Lord’s Anointed – the JOY expressed in His NEWBORN, this BABE, this little INFANT – this HOLY INFANT JESUS – the same one Herod and Pontius Pilate tried to annihilate – has become the FIRSTBORN of many brethren!
“. . . because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29).
Could it be that through the Spirit of Promise—“I am coming to you” (“I am going away and I am coming back to you”—John 14:28)—Jesus was birthing Himself in His disciples? I know that sounds “out there” – perhaps a bit theologically farfetched . . . but was it, is it?
It’s nigh impossible to ascertain the antecedents in John 16 – the mother? The sorrow? The babe? The joy? Go ahead, try to figure out who’s who; who’s doing what. Is Jesus the mother or are the disciples? Are the disciples experiencing the pain or is Jesus? Who’s the NEWBORN, the infant being birthed? The JOY is more than just an abstract emotion because such joy demands an object, which is the very NEWBORN. Then, what or Who is the object of this joy?
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:22-24).
The JOY set before Jesus was the same joy to be experienced by His brethren in that they would be living in the reality “in My Name.” They would pray: “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy infant Jesus” and it would be done unto them! Being “in My Name” – in the Name of Your Holy Infant Jesus – yes, therein was the outstretched hand of the Father cherishing His Newborn Babe.
KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND THE INFANT JESUS
The “keys to the kingdom of heaven” – in the eyes of Catholic and some Protestant theologians – were given to Peter – to the “you” of Matthew 16:19. However, a closer reading of the text MAY reveal something entirely different:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My EKKLESIA, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
At this point in the exchange between Jesus and Peter (aka Simon Bar-Jonah) the revelation of Who Jesus is (the Christ, the Son of the Living God) is given by the Father to Peter . . . and that it was upon this ROCK OF REVELATION of Who Jesus is that Peter (a little stone or rock) would find himself built upon Christ, the “Chief Cornerstone“ out from whom the whole building is built together as a Holy Temple in the Lord and that Peter would find himself as one of the “living stones” for that very building (1 Peter 2:4-6). But that immediate disclosure revealed the second major revelation: THE EKKLESIA that Jesus fully intended to build to assault (offensively speaking) the very Gates of Hades. Peter by himself would not contend with these Gates of Hell—but the Ekklesia Jesus intended to build sure would!
So, the focus of these revelations has now shifted to the Ekklesia; therefore, when we read the follow-up statements made after the disclosure of the Ekklesia, we see the next revelation:
“I will give YOU the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).
QUESTION: What is the antecedent of the YOU in Matthew 16:19 when it repeatedly refers to YOU some three times? Is it exclusively Peter or is it the Ekklesia—the most recently revealed revelation? Perhaps if we read about “binding and loosing” from another context (or is it another?) we will discover that the YOU is far more than Peter . . .
“And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the EKKLESIA. But if he refuses even to hear the Ekklesia (aka “the church”), let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to YOU (Who? -Note: Jesus had just mentioned the Ekklesia – so would not the antecedent of this YOU somehow be connected to the Ekklesia which was just the critical subject of the immediate conversation?), whatever YOU bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever YOU loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:17-18).
Actually, the YOU, to whom Jesus was addressing starts way back in Matthew 18:1, to wit: “At that time the DISCIPLES came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” They are the YOU in Matthew 18:17-18. The YOU here is corporate; and, quite frankly, in issues of “binding and loosing” are committed to the Ekklesia not to the singular YOU of Peter, a little rock.
Consequently, the meaning of Matthew 16:19 undergoes a radical, and profound, transference from the individual (Peter in this case) to the corporate entity which Jesus is building: His Ekklesia (which by its very nature is much larger than the Apostle Peter’s efforts at binding and loosing). Jesus had just disclosed the revelation of the Ekklesia and then announced the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” would be given to this YOU who would then be able to “bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever YOU loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). The entire dynamic meaning of “binding and loosing” in heaven and on earth has dramatically changed from the singularity of Peter to the corporate entity just disclosed. This was later in Matthew 18:17-18 utterly confirmed to be the very Ekklesia Jesus had just revealed, not only to Peter, but to all the disciples so gathered (“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples . . ..” Matthew 16:13).
Furthermore, in Matthew 18:19 the “two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask” are NOT brethren somehow utterly disassociated with the orchestra from whence they were playing to the tune of “binding and loosing.” Let me explain. These immediate two are in harmony, in symphony (as we will later expand upon in Part 2 of this entitlement) with the orchestra—the EKKLESIA—of the previous verse which was able to “bind and loose.”
Their “agreeing” was “in concert” with the Ekklesia—not the singularity of the original offense, nor of the secondary effort to resolve the offense . . . no, the offense had been brought to the Ekklesia where the binding and loosing takes place and where, in retrospect, those who are in agreement therewith can be assured: “If two of you AGREE (are in harmony) on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). Do you see the connection between “earth and heaven” in Matthew 18:19 and how it is connected to “binding in heaven and loosing on earth?”
In other words: The KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO HIS EKKLESIA . . . to the INFANT JESUS ABOUT TO BE BIRTHED UPON THIS EARTH via the disciples to both “bind in heaven” and to “loose on earth” . . . for what is bound upon the earth by the Ekklesia is likewise “loosed on earth AND loosed in heaven.”
I am tempted to delve into the murky waters of Revelation 12 and the identity of the woman and her “male child” (Lit. “a son” –Rev. 12:4-5) . . . but I digress. Let’s press on from infancy unto a full-grown man via the growth in Life!