Matthew 18:3 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Recently many have celebrated the birth of the Christ-child, True God becoming True Man. Perhaps you heard or read the telling of that wondrous event as it is recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Truly this event is the miracle of miracles.
Fully understanding this miracle is impossible, believing this miracle is possible because believing it is a direct result of God’s love for you. You believe in that first Christmas because God, out of His love, gave you the faith to believe it. You were converted, your heart was changed, at that moment when God sought you out and placed that gift of faith in your heart, you became His Child. And because of this gift of faith, you are here today to be as children - to believe like little children, to get excited, to look forward to, to be happy about - the most precious Christmas present you’ve ever been given. A Savior.
This Savior, Jesus, is about 33 years old and is talking to his disciples when He spoke the words of our text. He begins with the word “assuredly,” meaning “truly, no doubt about it, this is most certainly true,” we might say this is “the gospel truth,” the original good news truth.
Jesus wants to explain to His disciples about faith that it is from God, not from within themselves. It is God who converts us, who calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light, it is then we are able to grasp the Gospel, to understand the full meaning of Christmas, to trust that this night, some 2000 years ago, the Messiah who was promised from the beginning of Man’s fall into sin in the garden of Eden, has finally arrived!
He’s already come to take away our guilt, so that we are guiltless in the eyes of God who will judge us on the Last Day. We believe that by faith alone.
We are children of God by faith alone. One thing about children, they will believe almost anything you tell them because their reason does not get in the way. Christ tells us that that is the way our faith must be. Like a little child’s, ready to accept whatever God tells us in the Bible. One problem, reason gets in the way because of unbelief. Unbelief wants to say that it’s impossible for a virgin to bear a child, unbelief wants to say “no way” to the star of Bethlehem. Our sinful pride always thinks it has a better idea to please God than simply clinging by faith alone to the cross of Jesus and the forgiveness that is guaranteed for us by His perfect sacrifice. Sadly, unbelief shakes its head and turns away from the empty tomb of Easter that proves God’s love for us all. We thank God for His mercy in converting us, loving us enough to give us the ability to believe like little children again.
Jesus tells us all this because it’s the only way that we’ll get into the kingdom of heaven. Well, what is the kingdom of heaven? We know that it is much more than some place floating around in the sky. The kingdom of heaven is Christ’s ruling activity in the hearts of all believers. Romans 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Isn’t this righteousness, this peace, and this joy in the Holy Spirit the reason we celebrate the birth of our Savior King, Jesus Christ? Of course it is!
How does it feel, to be in the kingdom of heaven right at this very moment? Children of God by faith alone. Pretty comforting feeling, isn’t it?
Let us keep on reading, hearing, and studying the Bible. This is not just for today, but every day. Then the Holy Spirit will work through that Word to strengthen faith, to keep your faith like a little child’s faith! Then we will find true rest for our souls, then we will find the peace that passes all understanding, then the greatest gift of them all is opened before the eyes of our hearts, the gift of the Christ-child.