Jesus Loves the Little Children
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 9, 2013
*You have surely heard the tune. It was first written as a marching song for the Union Army, during the Civil War: "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching."
*Later this tune became one of the all-time favorite Christian songs for children. And we have sung it many times:
-"Jesus loves the little children,
-All the children of the world.
-Red and yellow, black and white,
-They are precious in His sight.
-Jesus loves the little children of the world." (1)
1. Jesus loves the little children. -- He loves them so much that He wants us to carry children to Him.
*This is the message to us in vs.13, where God's Word says: "Then they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them. . ." The parents in vs. 13 are a great example for us, because they brought their children to Jesus. And the Lord wants us to do everything we can to bring children to Him.
*And we are not just talking about our own children. Jesus wants us to reach out many more children. Think about extended family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teammates, and more.
*Jesus wants us to carry children to Him. One reason why is because children are teachable and reachable. Children are almost always open to spiritual truth. Most children, especially little children, love to come to church. So God wants us to do everything we can to get them to Jesus.
*Jesus wants us to help children come to know Him in a personal way. He also wants us to help them grow into devoted followers of Christ. This is why things like Vacation Bible School, Upward Football and Sunday School are so important. Wonderful things can happen when we bring children to Jesus Christ.
*By the time I met Mr. G.A. Neal he was a good man and a Godly senior adult. He and Mrs. Neal were married for 57 years before he passed away. Mr. Neal helped start a new church as mission, and he served as a deacon. But in his younger years, Mr. Neal was as lost as can be, and he had a terrible drinking problem.
*One night G.A. drank so much that he passed out in a pasture near their house. But they had a little dog named Fannie. And she kept going out to the pasture to check on Mr. Neal. When G.A. sobered up the next day, he said that if a little dog thought that much of him, if a little dog could love him that much, then he needed to do something about his life.
*It was a real turning point in Mr. Neal's life. But two more years passed before he and Mrs. Neal got saved. It happened one night after Vacation Bible School, on the same day that their little girl got saved in that VBS.
*I think it's great that God used a little dog to help Mr. Neal. But it took God's people serving in VBS to help lead the Neal's daughter to the Lord. And it took somebody going to that home to help lead her parents to the Lord.
*Amazing things can happen when we bring children to VBS, because we are really bringing them to Jesus! Some of those children will get saved. And sometimes even their parents can get saved through VBS.
*That matters to God more than we can measure! On a scale of 1 to 10, how important would you say children are to their parents and grandparents? Ten, of course! We would do anything we could to help our children and grandchildren.
*But how important do you think children are to church? -- Also a ten. A church without children is a dying church.
*Now, how important do you think children are to God? -- Ten times ten times ten! Children are infinitely more important to God than they are to the best of us.
*In Matthew 18, Jesus said this to His followers:
10. "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
12. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
13. And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
14. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
*Nobody cares more about children than God, so He wants all of us to do everything we can to carry them to Jesus.
-Jesus loves little children so much that He wants us to carry them to Him.
2. And He criticizes people who get in their way.
*In vs. 13&14:
13. Then they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
*Jesus loves children so much that He wants to touch their lives. And He rebukes those who get in the way. In vs. 13, the Lord's own disciples got in the way. They rebuked the parents who brought their children to Jesus. But then in vs. 14, Jesus rebuked His disciples. This verse also says that Jesus was greatly displeased with His disciples when they got in the way.
*Why in the world did the disciples try to block these children from getting to Jesus? One possible reason is that they were extremely busy. Earlier in Mark's Gospel, the disciples were sent out to preach the gospel and heal the sick.
*When they reported back to Jesus, Mark 6:31 tells us: . . . He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'' For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. The disciples were incredibly busy. So maybe they just didn't want to be interrupted by the children.
*But maybe the disciples could see the strain of the cross begin to wear on Jesus. This was only a few weeks or months before the Lord died on that cross for us. Maybe the disciples were concerned about Jesus.
*But there is never a good reason to keep children away from Jesus!
-He is never too burdened or busy for them.
-And, by the way, He is never too busy for you!
*The Lord was greatly upset when His disciples tried to keep the children from Him. Don't ever think you have a good reason for keeping children from the Lord.
*And don't let anything in your life be a barrier between children and the Lord.
-Not your busyness or your burdens.
-Not your hobbies or your habits.
*In Matthew 18:5&6, Jesus gives us this urgent news:
5. "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
*Jesus loves little children so much that He criticizes people who get in their way.
3. And He calls children to come to Him.
*In vs. 14, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven." Luke 18:16 says: . . . Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Jesus called these children to Him, and He is still calling children to Him today.
*This past Tuesday I had the sad honor of preaching the funeral for Heather Berry. Heather was the young lady who was killed in a terrible wreck 9 days ago. She was just 34 years old.
*Heather's short life overflowed with goodness poured out on other people. She cared about other people. By God's grace, she and her mother spend an hour and a half on the phone together, just hours before the wreck. Some of Heather's last words were expressions of her love, admiration and appreciation for her family.
*She expressed her love with her words, and she backed it up with her actions. One of the best examples was the way this nurse helped take care of her grandfather in his final illness. She also sat with her grandmother, when she was in the hospital.
*And Heather's caring heart went far beyond her family. Back when she was a student at ULM, Heather tutored for a couple of years at the Baptist Children's Home. Senior adults also had a special place in her heart. That started when Heather was just a little girl. She would go to the nursing home with her aunt, because Heather loved playing the piano for the people there.
*Years later, when Heather worked as a nurse with the elderly, she went over and above what she had to do. One of the most servant-hearted things she did was give manicures and pedicures to women and the men too, if they needed it. The first thing Heather would do is wash their feet. What a Christ-like thing to do!
*And Heather cared about spiritual needs. When she was only in the 7th grade, Heather led another girl to the Lord. She tried to witness every way that she could. And all of this good flowed out of the fact that Heather trusted in the Lord when she was only 5 years old.
*Jesus calls children to come to Him. Some of the most famous Christians in history were also saved when they were very young. Matthew Henry was 11. Jonathan Edwards was 7. Richard Baxter was 6. Isaac Watts was 9. Corrie ten Boom received Jesus at the age of 5. One of the fathers of modern missions, Nicholaus Zinzendorf, was only 4!
*The great missionary Stanley Jones was moved to be a missionary when he was 8-years-old. Stanley saw a poster of a big tiger standing beside a little boy from India. And underneath the little boy's picture was this caption: "Who will tell me about Jesus?" Eight-year-old Stanley Jones said, "I will."
*W. A. Criswell was one of the greatest pastors of the 20th century. He was saved when he was 10. But he felt God calling him into ministry even earlier. Criswell stated, "I had been thinking about being a preacher for years, -- since I was 6. I knew I had not been saved. But I knew that God wanted me to be a preacher." (2)
*Jesus calls children to come to Him. The next W.A. Criswell or Corrie ten Boom may be in the nursery right now! And we need to do all we can to help them know that Jesus is calling for them.
*And by the way, Jesus is calling for you too. In Isaiah 45:21&22 He says,
21. . . "There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.
22. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."
*In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus calls:
28. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
*Jesus loves little children so much that He calls them to come to Him.
4. And He cautions us to be like them.
*Jesus made this crucial point in vs. 15, where He said: "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.''
*Here, the Lord uses children as a model for salvation, and He is very emphatic. The only way to get to heaven is to become like a little child. But what does that mean?
*One truth it shows is that we must be spiritually born again into the Family of God. There is no spiritual life in us, unless it flows out of His life. And the only way for us to receive this life is to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We have to trust in Him, trust in His love and forgiveness, and trust in His cross.
*Then, like a little child, we should trust in our Heavenly Father's care. We should love Him, learn from Him, and be disciplined by Him, knowing that we can always count on the love of Jesus Christ.
*Jesus loves little children so much that He cautions us to be like them.
5. And He wants to carry them.
*Verse 13 tells us that those parents wanted Jesus to touch their children. But the wonderful truth is that Jesus also wanted to touch those children! This is the message to us in vs.16, where the Word of God says: "He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them."
*Here is a wonderful truth for us: The God of the whole universe is close enough to touch us, and He wants to touch us! He wants to pick us up when we fall down. And He wants to safely carry us all the way home to Heaven.
*In Isaiah 46:3-4 the Lord says:
3. "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb:
4. even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
*That's how much the Lord loves little children. And that's how much He loves us.
*Christian: If you're ever tempted to doubt the Lord Jesus' love for you, go back to the cross! Remember what our Risen Savior did on that cross for us: He took all of the punishment for all of our sins.
*Pastor Thomas Long told the story of Confirmation Sunday at a friend's church. All the young students stood before the congregation and recited a Bible passage they had memorized. For this particular Sunday, the students memorized a passage from Romans 8.
*The teacher would start out by asking each child, "What shall separate you from the love of God?" And each child would then proudly recite, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate me from the love of God in Jesus Christ."
*Each child recited the passage perfectly. But the church was holding its breath for the last child, Rachel. Rachel was born with Down syndrome. She was loved very much, and normally very happy. But would Rachel be embarrassed when it was her turn to recite the Scripture?
*Finally, the teacher got to the end of the line and asked, "Rachel, what shall separate you from the love of God?" Rachel stood and with joyful enthusiasm simply replied: "Nothing!" (3)
*This is the love that Jesus has for all the little children of the world. And this is the love that He has for me and you. So put your trust in Jesus Christ.
*He is God the Son who came into this world to die on the cross for you. He rose again from the dead. And He will give His everlasting life to you, if you will open your heart to Him.
*Trust Him; love Him; serve Him; worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And do anything you can to help other people know about the love of Jesus Christ.
*Would you please bow for prayer
(2) Adapted from "Nelson's Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations and Quotes"
(3) Adapted from Thomas Long in "Ten Great Preachers" - edited by Bill Turpie - Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000 - pp. 90-91 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Children of Dust or Children of God?" by King Duncan - Eph 1:1-14 - Christmas 2005