I've messed around slightly with the passages from Search the Scriptures. It seemed sensible to keep the two parables on prayer as one study, and I'm not sure that v15-17 don't tie into things in this study rather than the one before. Let's see…

Jesus welcomes the small children, who are of too little status for the disciples to bother with. He then says that the "kingdom of God" belongs to those who are as children, and that someone must "receive the kingdom of God like a child" to enter it. He doesn't specify what he means by this, which has caused much debate since. I think that what comes after is relevant, so I'll come back to this issue shortly.

Jesus' first response to the question is to challenge it, then he answers it. In saying "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone" Jesus isn't trying to say that he isn't good. Rather, he's saying that he doesn't want to be called a "good teacher". He is either a teacher, or he is God but he will not be a good teacher. Something of this is reflected by CS Lewis in his "mad, bad or God" arguement. In answering the question Jesus first refers to the commandments, and the ruler reaches for his checklist and can tick each one of them off. But Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing and instructs him to sell all he owns and give the proceedes to the poor. But this isn't another hoop to jump through that Jesus has suddenly pulled out of nowhere. Rather, Jesus gives this instruction to show what it is that the ruler lacks – that he does not have high enough value on eternal life. This is emphasised in v28-30 where Jesus explains that giving up temporal blessings is well worth it both now and "in the age to come".

It seems to me a child-like thing to get rid of everything that you have to get something that you really want without really worrying. To have your attention fixed so completely on that object of your desire that the cost seems insignificant. It seems this is why the two stories are together – to receive the kingdom of God you must receive it as a child, to inherit eternal life you must desire it above everything else. There are probably other nuances to the child thing, but I think from the context that it's about having a desire that surpases all things.

Jesus then makes it clear that he will follow through on the instruction to give up all things (even his life) for the kingdom of God. He emphasises God's sovreignty in that all these events were predicted by the prophets, and even more specifically by himself. He speaks only to the twelve, and the meaning of what he was saying was "hidden from them" until after the time when it happened. The disciples were truly blessed to spend so much of their lives learning from Jesus – but it is also a great blessing to be able to look at his life in the light of the cross and so have the truth revealed to us.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that your justice and love are so complete that you gave up your Son to the horror of the cross. I praise you that I praise you that you had planned it ahead of time and that you would not leave him in the grave. Would you fix this truth in my heart and before my eyes, so that I hang onto it with a child-like tenacity and want to think of nothing else. Let me be generous with money, but motivated by the greatness of the reward that you are preparing in Heaven. Amen.


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