Our Model of an Adult “Little Child”

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In our last posting we explored what Jesus meant by “becoming as a little child to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” This week  I want to unveil our perfect model of a full-grown adult who demonstrated for us just how to do that—Jesus Himself. Let’s look at how He describes His relationship with His Father, His Abba (Daddy).

Notice that these statements are all from the Gospel of John, which views Jesus from an epiginosko (Gk. for “experiential knowing”) perspective, while the synoptic gospels (Matthew Mark and Luke) picture Him more from an oida (Gk. – “observational knowing”) viewpoint.

As you read these verses, keep in mind that Jesus, “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and (came) in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6, 7). He actually laid aside His ability to act as God, from His birth at Bethlehem to His enthronement at the Ascension. 

During that time He was a perfect man, living only by human power and ability, showing us just how God initially created man to live. He is called “the last Adam” (ending the sinful, Adamic race by His death, as all fallen humanity died in Him – 1 Corinthians 15:45)) and the “second man” (beginning a whole new race of humanity with His resurrection, as we all rose in Him, to live in the manner He was demonstrating  – 1 Corinthians 15:47)! Here are some verses in which Jesus reveals to us just how that new race of redeemed humanity now lives.

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel’” (John 5:19, 26).

This “little child,” Jesus Himself, sees His Daddy’s way of life and then does the same things, in the same way (“in like manner”). Jesus is the least original man who ever lived! He patterned His life after His Father perfectly, in response to “the Father loves the Son!”

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38)

What Jesus did was never what seemed right to Him, what others considered the best option, or any other independent idea someone might present to Him. He did not listen to any other thoughts besides those thoughts that came from His Father..

“Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me’” (John 7:16).

All the doctrine and theology Jesus taught His followers came straight from His Heavenly Father. He neither came up with it himself, nor heard it from the Scribes and Pharisees in the synagogue as He was growing up with Mary and Joseph. It was straight from His Daddy.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him’” (John 8:28, 29).

As we can see in this verse, even in His death, Jesus knew His Father was with Him and had not forsaken Him. However, during the height of bearing the sins of the whole world completely alone, His Father turned His back on the unpaid-for, uncovered, infinite, raw sin and His Son Who had absorbed it, and then sent Him to Hell. His perfect humanity cried out to His Father, “Why have you forsaken me?!” From the above verse we know He did not ask that from His heart, because He already knew the answer, but the pure agony of how God dealt with our sin through Him forced that cry from Jesus’ lips.

There are other passages in John that communicate the same idea of Jesus living on the earth as a little child, and as such, He saved the world on the cross (John 12:49, 59; 14:24-25; 17:7, 8)! 

However, the story of Jesus’ life is even more unlikely. This “little child” who had died a horrible death for our sin, anticipates what is about to happen to Him as He concludes His time on the earth in these immortal words: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18)

As He says this, Jesus knew He would soon receive from His Father what He was once promised by earth’s then-ruler, Satan himself. At Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness three years earlier, Satan had promised to give to Jesus ”the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8), if He would only do as Adam had done and yield to Satan’s authority by obeying him. 

Jesus, our adult, model little child, unlike Adam, heard the words of His Daddy in His heart directing Him: Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written (Daddy tells me), ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him’” (Matthew 4:10).

We are now ready, as adult “little children” just as Jesus was, immediately after He came back from being tempted in the wilderness. This is what He did: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14, 15).

The Kingdom of God came to Galilee when Jesus returned from His temptation in the wilderness. In like manner, we have been redeemed and restored to our Father, and the kingdom of God goes with us wherever we go, just as it followed our adult, little-child Model. If our restoration is experiential, we too have the same Holy Spirit Jesus received at His baptism. 

As we get the vision of bringing the kingdom to the earth, just as He did, with the love, joy and peace that God gives to all His little children, we are seeing the initial reason for mankind’s creation being fulfilled—”Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image’” (Genesis 1:26). As we trust Daddy fully, we too can say, along with our perfect adult model of a little child in the kingdom of God—”He who has seen Me has seen the Father!” 

That, indeed, is true of us. Believe it!

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  1. Duane Hodges says:

    This is a whole lot to unpack even though it seems simple. I suppose the question for each child is “what is the will of my Father for me?” I have a feeling it’s not quite as mysterious as we’d like to make it. Maybe in your next posting you could expand?

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