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Children and the Kingdom of Heaven
What does the Bible say about children? Lesson 1
Who are the important children in your life? Do you have kids? Grandkids? Are you a teacher? Pediatrician? Therapist? My guess is that no matter who you are and regardless of whether you have children of your own, you have kids in your life that you invest in. For me, I have nieces and nephews, and I also volunteer with the middle school youth group at my church. These kids are important to me, which means it’s important that I help train them in how to live as Christ would want them to live.
To know how to help train these kids, it’s important to understand what the Bible has to say about children. As I was researching this topic, I was amazed at how often the kingdom of heaven came up. So this first study in the series will first look at what the book of Matthew has to say about the kingdom of heaven. Then we will look more closely at how children fit into the kingdom of heaven.
This study looks at a lot of different Bible passages, which could be overwhelming if you are doing this with children. Therefore, I have divided this into five days to keep it more manageable. Feel free to do the entire study at once or break it up based on your desired time and intensity.
Day 1: The Kingdom of Heaven
Read the following passages from Matthew to learn what Jesus has to say about the kingdom of heaven. There are others, but these illustrate the key ideas about the kingdom of heaven. For the longer passages, I have provided a summary along with a link for the entire passage. I would highly encourage you to click on the link and read the entire passage. The Bible says it so much better than I do! For each passage, I will also provide a short interpretation or key takeaway.
Matthew 5:1-11: Beatitudes
vs 3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
vs. 10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Key takeaway: The kingdom of heaven is not for the rich and powerful. It is for the poor and persecuted.
Matthew 6:19-21: Treasures
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Key takeaway: The kingdom of heaven provides eternal rewards. In contrast, the rewards of this earth are temporary.
Matthew 13:1-23: Parable of the Sower
Summary: A farmer sows seeds. Seeds fall on the path, rocks, thorns, and good soil. Only the good soil produces a crop. This is like those who hear about the kingdom of heaven. The message may fall on hearts that are not ready; or it falls on good soil, takes root, and produces a crop.
Key takeaway: The message about the kingdom of heaven will be given to all, but only a few will take up the message and let it grow in their hearts.
Matthew 13:44-46: Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
Summary: The kingdom of heaven is like a hidden treasure or a pearl. When the treasure or pearl is found, the person gives up everything they have to purchase it.
Key takeaway: The kingdom of heaven is worth sacrificing everything for.
Matthew 13:47-52: Parable of the Net
Summary: The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was used to catch fish. When the fish were collected, the good fish were kept and the bad fish were thrown away. This is how the kingdom of heaven will be in the end.
Key takeaway: In the kingdom of heaven, the good (those who follow Christ) will be kept and the bad (those who refuse Christ) will be thrown out.
Matthew 20:1-16: Parable of the Workers
Summary: The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out several times in a single day to hire workers. He agreed to pay each worker one day’s wages, regardless of the time he hired them. In the end, every worker got the same pay, whether they worked all day or only for an hour.
Key takeaway: In the kingdom of heaven, the rewards are the same whether you live your whole life as a Christian or accept Jesus right at the end.
Matthew 25:1-13: Parable of the Ten Virgins
Summary: The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins who went to meet the bridegroom. Five brought extra oil for their lamps, and five did not. When the five who did not bring enough oil went to go get more, the bridegroom arrived, and the ones who went out to get oil were not allowed back inside.
Key takeaway: The kingdom of heaven can come at any time, so we need to be ready.
After reading these verses, how would you explain the kingdom of heaven to someone else?
Think in particular about the children in your life. If you are doing this study with others, have each person summarize how they would explain the kingdom of heaven.
Day 2: Children and the Kingdom of Heaven
Now read Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, and Luke 18:15-17. These all discuss the same story. I’ll include the Mark passage here and link to the others. I encourage you to take the time to read all three passages, because each one provides a few different details.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
What do you think it means for the kingdom of heaven to belong to people who come to Jesus like children?
Little children have an innocent trust that adults often do not have. We need to have this innocent trust in Jesus to be a part of the kingdom of heaven. Children also are not afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. They have an innate curiosity that drives them to seek answers.
What do these passages say will happen to those who do not receive the kingdom of heaven like a child?
If we do not receive the kingdom of heaven like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Day 3: Characteristic of Children
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
What characteristic does the child have that makes them great in the kingdom of heaven?
The child has a low position, i.e., is humble.
What does it mean to be humble?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines humble as “not proud, not thinking of yourself as better than other people.”
Day 4: Biblical View of Humility
Read the following verses about humility.
Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Proverbs 22:4: Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
1 Peter 5:5-6: In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
After reading these verses, what does humility mean from a Biblical viewpoint?
Humility means considering others before you consider yourself. Humility involves submitting yourself to others who are above you (leaders, elders, parents) and submitting to God.
What is the outcome of being humble? Of not being humble?
Those who are truly humble before God will be lifted up by God in the end. If we are not humbled, God will cause us to be humbled in the end. God is the one who should do the exalting, not us.
How should this knowledge change how you interact with other people?
For example, parents, children, siblings, friends, others?
How would you explain being humble to a child? To an adult?
Day 5: Faith Like a Child
The Bible says that anyone who does not receive the kingdom of heaven like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17). The Bible also says we need to have faith in Jesus to be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), and salvation is required to enter heaven (John 14:6).
What does the Bible say about the kind of faith God wants us to have?
Read the following verses.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Romans 8:14: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
1 Peter 2:2-3: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
After reading these verses, consider this question:
How does the faith described in these verses compare to children?
Our faith should cause us to not worry about the basic things in life. Just like we should have faith that God will provide, children have faith that their parents will provide these things.
Children are naturally curious, so they always want to learn more by asking questions and discovering new information. Like children, we should crave learning about God’s word.
Children have a hope and excitement about things to come (especially related to things like gifts and fun events). They tend to have confidence that these things will happen and will be good and fun. As Christians, we should have this same confidence in the things to come from God.
Take time to write down your thoughts about what kind of faith you want to have as a child of God.
Finish your Bible study by praying and asking God to help you have faith in him and to help you be humble.
Journal sheets and PowerPoint presentations are available for each lesson. You can access these resources by clicking here: Premium Resources