Stephen Caswell © 2005
Lauren And David in the Bath
About 11 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 moment 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. Our friends explained how to use a knife to move the latch across from the outside.
After Mummy got David out of the bath, she 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 Lauren how Jesus healed people and even raised the dead. She believed it without reservation. In fact Lauren asked Jesus into her heart when she was very young.
What Can We Learn From Children? A great deal. The expression, out of the mouth of babes is so true. Today we will learn something about eternal life from children. 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. 1. The Parents Request 2. The Disciples Rebuke 3. The Lord's Response
1. 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. Luke’s account reveals that there were some infants among them. The word brought, προσφέρω means to bear or bring near or to present. 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 wanted their children to meet Him. Their actions are certainly to be praised. Bringing little children to the Saviour is something very commendable. Christ didn’t 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. Our prayers, our instruction and love are all important. Yet our personal faith in Christ and example are even more important.
Will Your Children Go to Heaven?
One congregation found that where both parents were faithful to the Lord, including active interest in the local congregation’s programs, 93 percent of the kids remained faithful. On the other hand, if only one of the parents was faithful, that figure dropped to 73 percent. Where the parents were only what we would call reasonably active in the Lord’s work, only 53 percent of the young people maintained their faith. Now here comes the shocker: In those cases where both parents attended only infrequently, the percentage of their children who remained faithful to the Lord dropped to 6 percent. Want your children to go to heaven? Then make certain you are leading them.
We do well to follow these parent’s 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 things are so important. Children are only soft to spiritual things 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
2. 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, ἐπιτιμάω, 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. Why were these parents wasting Jesus’ time? 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 that 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 so busy. He was always healing the sick, counselling the broken hearted and preaching to people. He was far to busy to be bothered with children. After all, they were too young to believe in Him. They were just 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
3. The Lord's Response
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, ἀγανακτέω, 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 served, but to serve others 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 helping Him but a hindering Him. This is why Jesus rebuked them openly. I trust that we never prevent people coming to the Lord. Rather let us encourage them to come to Christ and be a good example. These parents had the right idea. They wanted to introduce their children to the Saviour while they were young. We would do well to follow their example.
Jesus' second response was an Invitation
Mark 10:14b says: Jesus 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. God cares for the smallest and least important in some eyes, like children. Because all people are important to God, since all need His salvation. R.E. Sunday School and Kids Clubs are so important since they reach young children.
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 attending it. 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.
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.
Christ now says that heaven is for ones like these little children. Heaven is not beyond a child's reach. In fact they are more able to enter it than most adults. Children feel the need of the Savior, and gladly come when they hear that He is near, if only parents and teachers are willing to take the time to lead them gently to Him. Therefore ministry to children is not a waste of time but a good investment of time. 75% of people who become Christians do so by the age of 12. 90% by the age of 25. Ministry to children is both important and fruitful. Jesus knew that children, with their receptive hearts and simple faith are closest to His kingdom.
Our Kids Coming To Christ
I have had the privilege of leading 3 of our children to Christ. We read them stories from the Bible each day. We talk to them about Christ and spiritual issues at meal times and while driving. We teach them to pray while they are young. We have shared with them many times how they can become one of God’s children. Then when they are ready they ask to receive Christ as their Saviour. Parents you have a great opportunity to lead your little ones to Christ. Start when they are infants or toddlers. They are capable of believing if we will only teach them and pray for them.
But what does Jesus mean by this statement? He was speaking to adults? Will only children go to heaven? Are all adults excluded? I don’t believe that this was Christ’s intention. Jesus said that we have to receive eternal life like a little child. How does a little child receive anything? In simple faith. They believe what they are told. They receive what they are given. To receive eternal life we adults must believe what God has said in the Bible. We just trust our Heavenly Father. Put plainly, we must humble ourselves, trusting in Christ completely.
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. Wouldn't you think it strange if your child asked you, if you were sure that you wanted them to have it? 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. Unfortunately most adults won't accept God's free gift. We don't think we need it. We question God’s Word. We doubt His goodness. We are too proud to humble ourselves before God. Adults think they are okay, or that they can save themselves. God won’t accept people who don’t come to Him like little children. He’s very definite on it.
The original language uses two negatives ου μη to emphasise this point. No, No, or never, never, is not good English. So 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 God’s 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. John 1:10-12: But although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
What could be more simple than the gospel? It’s as simple as A.B.C. 1. Admit we are sinners. 2. Believe Jesus Christ will 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 dependence.
Christ's final response was Intercession
Mark 10:16: And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.
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.
Matthew 19:13 adds that Christ prayed for them: Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray. I am sure that the prayers Christ offered on their behalf were wonderful. The Lord loves to bless all His children and longs that we might come to Him. The parents request for Jesus' blessing was eagerly performed by the Lord.
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. Are you introducing your children to Christ while they are young? Do you pray for your children that God might bless them? Do you pray that God would lead them to Himself for salvation? If we truly love them we will pray that God would 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 do so. Children with their simple faith are very responsive to the gospel. Let us lead them to Christ. Let us pray for them.
2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.