What does it mean to “receive the kingdom of God like a little child?”
To be an apostle of Jesus ,and thus a candidate for the kingdom of heaven , one needs to exhibit the qualities of a young child, so the term "like a little child" means to have such qualities that children usually exhibit,humility innocence ,teachable, trustful, and inquisitiveness.
The Little Children and Jesus (Matthew 9:13-15 NIV)
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his
hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder
them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he
had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
Such qualities are extremely rare in grown ups today, Paul characterizes todays generation as follows:
2Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV)
1 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,
abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without
love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not
lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God."
The rich young ruler.
Expressions from various translations like "Just then" (NIV), " A man came" (NLV) and "Some one came", (NASB) indicates that is is a coincidence and not a follow up to the "little children"
The Rich and the Kingdom of God . (Matthew 16, 21,22 NIV)
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good
thing must I do to get eternal life?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want
to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you
will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young
man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
The rich young ruler was under obligation to help the needy ( Isaiah 58:6-7, Proverbs 28:27) but his obvious unwillingness to give his material possessions to help others, and become a follower of Jesus prevented him from entering the Kingdom of God.
Notice that Jesus did not simply tell him, sell you possessions, but also told him "come follow me".
This does not mean that christians cannot have material wealth,the scriptures advice to keep wealth in its proper perspective, and be generous to others.
Illustration with refence to a camel.Matthew 19:23-24
Obviously it should not be taken literally, Jesus simply pointed that just as it it not possible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, likewise it is not possible for someone to enter the kingdom of heaven whilst clinging on to his material possessions.