What Can We Learn From Children?
Stephen Caswell © 1999
What Can We Learn From Children?
Lauren And David in the Bath
About 5 years ago, Sandy was bathing Lauren and David when the phone rang. She left them for a moment in the bath together while she went to answer it. A minute later Lauren shut the door and came down to see Mummy. But for some reason she locked the latch and shut the door behind her. Sandy rushed down to the bathroom but was unable to get in. David was about 10 months old and playing in the bath on his own. Sandy didn't know how to get in to the bathroom. So she rang some friends who had the same type of doors in their house. Peter explained how to use a knife to move the latch across from the outside. After She got David out of the bath, Sandy explained to Lauren why she shouldn't lock the doors and leave David in that situation. She explained how David could have drowned. Lauren replied, full of confidence, " That's all right mummy Jesus can make David alive again. " We had taught her how Jesus healed people and raised the dead and she believed it without reservation. In fact Lauren asked Jesus into her heart when she was very young.
What Can We Learn From Children? How to gain eternal life. The Bible says that we need to have child like faith to enter the kingdom of God. If there was one point that Jesus made over and over again, it was this, that no one is able to save themself. Everyone must come to Christ and in simple child like faith receive the free gift of salvation that he offers. Jesus had been inside a house, instructing the disciples in greater detail concerning divorce and remarriage. It was at this time some parents came on the scene bringing their children to the Lord. This morning we will learn three lessons from Jesus and these children.
Firstly we will see the Parents Request - Their concern for their children
Secondly the Disciples Rebuke - Their confusion over Christ's ministry
Thirdly the Lord's Response - His compassion for people, including children
Firstly The Parents Request
Mark 10:13 says this: Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them;
While the disciples were talking to Jesus about these things some parents brought their children to Him. The word brought means to bring near or before someone. The reason for this was that He might touch them. No doubt these parents thought very highly of Jesus and believed that He would bless their children. Perhaps these parents had believed in Jesus Christ themselves and now desired that their children meet Him. Their actions are certainly to be commended. Bringing little children to the Saviour was something very commendable, then, and now. Christ did not reprimand them for this, and in fact granted them their request.
The Custom of Jewish Rabbi's
In middle eastern culture it was customary for parents to bring their children unto respected Rabbi's that they might receive a blessing. This is what these parents were doing.
Luke's account says that they brought infants to the Lord that He would touch them. The desire of these parents, was that Jesus might pray for them and bless them. Matthew's gospel brings this out more clearly. Matthew 19:13 says: Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, The parents recognised that the Lord Jesus was a special person, perhaps some knew He was the Messiah. They believed that God would hear any prayers He made for their children.
We do well to follow their example. Children are important and should be brought to the Lord while they are young and have soft hearts; before sin can spoil and harden them. Are you teaching your children about the Saviour? Do you bring them to Sunday School? Do you pray with them? Have you encouraged them to ask Jesus to save them from their sin? These are important things to do, since children are only young and soft for a while. This morning I would like to encourage you to follow the example of the parents in Mark chapter 10:
Now we have seen the Parents Request, let's see the
II. Disciples Rebuke
Mark 10:13b says: but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
The disciples rebuked the parents for doing this. The word rebuke has the idea of reprimand, chide or even censure. They probably thought that Jesus was too busy to be troubled by children. He just didn't have the time for people who were not important. After all, how could children be interested in spiritual things anyway? So they stepped in and escorted them away. They probably scolded the parents for not being more considerate, since Jesus was such a busy person.
Illustration, " No Children Please "
" No Children please! " These words are seldom voiced, but they're often assumed when we are invited to hear a prominent speaker, teacher, or leader. The assumption is that children wouldn't know what's going on and they might annoy the speaker. Many years ago, missionary Robert Moffat learned the importance of not overlooking children. Only a few people had come to one of his meetings because of bad weather. Although disheartened, he preached his message, not noticing a small boy who was operating the bellows of the organ. Before Moffat was finished, that boy had decided to become a missionary. His name was David Livingstone, who grew up to become God's pioneering servant in Africa.
The Disciples Motives
Humanly speaking the disciples response is understandable. They had Jesus well being at heart. Jesus was just too busy healing the sick, counselling the broken hearted and preaching to people, to be bothered with little children. They were too young to believe in Him and were therefore a waste of time. It seems the disciples forgot very quickly the importance Christ placed on children's ministry. Jesus had just taught them of His concern for children.
Mark 9:36-37, 42 says this: Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." Verse 42" But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
It couldn't have been any clearer, Jesus loved and cared for little children. He commanded His disciples to receive them like Himself. He even said that receiving children was the same as receiving God, His Father. In verse 42 Jesus stated that little ones like these can believe in Him. He warned that whoever caused these little ones to stumble would be punished.
We may rightly accuse the disciples of being uncaring and cold but we often emulate their actions. Are you too busy to teach your children about the Saviour? Do you bring them to Sunday School and Church to hear God's word? Do you think that children lack the understanding required to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour? Such attitudes are wrong.
Having seen the Disciples Rebuke we will now observe
III. The Lord's Response
Christ's response was fourfold: Mark 10:14 says: But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased
Jesus First response was Indignation
When Christ saw what they were doing, He responded immediately. Marks's gospel is the only account that records Jesus strong emotions on this. The phrase greatly displeased or much displeased is far too tame. Our Lord actually became indignant as He rebuked His disciples for hindering the children from coming to Him. Christ was angry at their actions since they contradicted His ministry. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He didn't come to be ministered to, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many. The disciples were preventing Him from doing the very thing He came to do. Acting this way, they were not a help to him but a hindrance and that is why Jesus rebuked them openly.
Jesus' second response was an Invitation
Mark 10:14b says: and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
Having shown His indignation, the Lord now gives an open invitation for the children to come to Him. To make sure that they did not miss the point Christ expressed the command both positively and negatively. He invited the children to come to Him and then gave a command that no one forbid them. They were special to Him and would not be overlooked in His ministry. Last week we saw that God cares for even the most sinful people like Rahab. Today we can see that He cares for the smallest and least important in some eyes like children. Because all people are important to God, since all need His salvation.
Illustration of 21st Party Invitation
When I turned 21, My parents threw a party for me. I invited my friends and relatives to come. We had a great time playing games and laughing about experiences in my life up until then. We had food and drinks after ward and I got to open up lots of presents. Although I sent out many invitations, nobody could enjoy the party without being there. To receive any benefit you had to come and join in the celebrations at our home.
In the same way, Jesus has given everyone an invitation to come to Him for salvation. But to receive His salvation, we must respond and accept the invitation. He waits for us to come with simple faith and then He will do all that He has promised to.
Christ now says that heaven is for those like these little children. Heaven is not beyond a child's reach. In fact they are more able to enter it than most adults. But what does Jesus mean by this statement? Will only children go to heaven? Are adults excluded from heaven? Or will all who receive the kingdom of God like little children be allowed to enter?
Jesus third response was Instruction
Mark 10:15 says: "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
Jesus said that we have to receive eternal life like a little child. What did He mean by that? How does a little child receive anything? In simple faith. There are no doubts. Jesus knew that children, with their receptive hearts and simple faith are closest to His kingdom.
Illustration of Children and Christmas Presents
Have you ever noticed how children receive Christmas presents. They don't want to read the card or open the present carefully to look after the paper. They just want to get it open as quick as they can to see what's inside. Once you give them the present it's only matter of moments before they have it opened. When you give them their present, they're on to it. Wouldn't you think it strange if your child asked you, if you were sure that you wanted them to have it? Or if you could afford the cost of the gift? Children don't think that way. They receive what they are given without any suspicion or concern that strings are attached!
God's Gift of Salvation
The same is true of eternal life. God wants to give His free gift to all. But as with any gift we have to receive it. Most, assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." We have to receive the gift from God. It is only as we come to God like little children; helpless and totally dependent on the mercy and grace He offers, that we can be saved. But unfortunately most adults won't accept God's free gift. We don't think we need it. So often we are too proud to humble ourselves before God.
Adults think they are okay, or that they can save themselves. God will not accept people who do not come to Him like little children. He is most definite on this. The original language uses two negatives to emphasise this point. We translate it, by no means or in no way will anyone enter the kingdom of God without childlike faith. Jesus could not have made this statement any stronger. We have to come His way, admitting our need to be saved like a child or we will be lost. Pride and self keep many people out of the kingdom of God. What could be more simple than the gospel? 1. Admit we are sinners. 2. Believe in Jesus Christ to save us. 3. Confess our sin to Him.
When Children are hungry they simply come to their parents and ask for food. They believe that their parents will take care of them. They have no reason to doubt since they have always been provided for. God wants us to have this same simple faith. This humble faith.
Christ's final response was Intercession & Blessing
Mark 10:16 says this: And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them. Matthew 19:13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray,
Jesus took the little children up into His arms and blessed them. This reveals God's love for children and His desire to bless them. Since He took them into His arms He must have blessed them individually. I am sure that the prayers Christ offered on their behalf would have been wonderful. The Lord loves to bless all His children and longs that we all might come to Him. The parents request for Jesus' blessing was eagerly performed by the Lord.
Do you pray for your children that God might bless them? Do you pray that God might lead them to Himself for salvation? If we truly love them we will pray for God to save them. This does not guarantee that they will be saved. Each person must choose for themselves to receive God's free gift. But it does means that God will then give them every opportunity to. And children with their simple faith are very responsive to the gospel.
This morning we have seen the importance of bringing our children to the saviour while they are young. We saw that are important to God. No one is outside of His concern. Christ was most indignant when the disciples tried to hinder children from coming to Him. Children have receptive hearts to the gospel message. Christ gave an invitation for all to come in child like faith. The Lord instructed us concerning the absolute necessity of childlike faith to enter heaven. Have you come in child like faith to Jesus Christ for salvation? He won't turn you away if you do. Is your pride or fear of what others will think preventing you from being saved? This morning I would like to encourage you to let go of all that would keep you from coming to Christ. He waits for you to come with open arms. He longs to bless all who will come to Him. Won't you come to Him today?
Benediction The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.