In Part 1, I was talking about Jesus and children—and how the extraordinary situation arose where the children loved to come to Jesus and the disciples pushed them away. They thought the children were wasting the time of Jesus but he was quite indignant, as I said. He was angry and sad and he said, Look, they matter to me.
This is highly significant, because it indicates that children were made for God. This is what Jesus is saying—that he and children were made for each other. The children loved him immediately, and wanted to come to him—we need to let them, by making sure we don’t put any obstacles in their path.
To say it more positively, we need to lead our children to receive Christ as their Saviour when they are young. If we don’t, we may be hindering them from becoming all that Christ has in mind for them.
Since we have a limited window of opportunity, we need to give our best efforts—as parents, as grandparents. Do you know that 83% of those who come to Christ, do so before the age of 18. The older a person gets without becoming a Christian the less likely they are to do so. James Dobson has said, “We must make the salvation of our children our #1 priority. Nothing else is more important.”
Jesus tells Christ’s followers today (in Mark 10:14 – NIV) to “not hinder children”. This verse helps me to see that kids by nature want to come to Jesus—it’s us adults who often stand in the way. Let’s let them do what they want to do anyway—to come to Christ when they are young.
Because of the high value Jesus places on kids, he gives a strong warning to anyone who becomes a hindrance to children. Listen to what he says in Matthew 18:5-6:
And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
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I’m personally challenged as a father to make sure that I don’t become a stumbling block to my children. Ephesians 6:4 provides a sobering reminder that how I treat my daughters will have a direct impact on their spiritual development. Fellow fathers, listen to this verse: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, and fellow parents: the best thing we can do to express our love to our children, and to the children of our church, is to lead them to a conscious commitment to Jesus Christ in their early years.
D.L. Moody once returned from a meeting and reported that there were two and a half conversions. Someone asked, “Two adults and one child?” “No,” said Moody, “Two children and one adult. The children gave their whole lives. The adult only had half to give.”
We Need to Learn From Children
First, we’re to let children come. Second, Jesus challenges us to learn from children. Notice the last part of verse 14 and verse 15 (in Mark 10:14-15): “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” These are some strong words: in order to grow up, we need to become like a child.
Why should we let children come to Jesus? Why are we told to not hinder them? There are at least two answers:
- It’s for their sake.
- It’s for our sake.
Children are valued for who they are—and they also serve as living pictures of a deeply spiritual truth.
Jesus did not say, Don’t hinder them because to these belong the kingdom. He said, Don’t hinder them because to such as these belong the kingdom. Instead of blocking their path, help them come to me for salvation because they represent the kind of people who will inherit the kingdom.
Let’s stop and think about something. Why did God decide that there should be children? Have you asked, Why did God design the world so that the human race multiplies by having babies who take years to become adults? Why didn’t God design people so that we can multiply quickly?
At the heart of the answer is this: children are precious in their own right and they stand for something bigger than themselves. They model the kind of dependence and helplessness and insufficiency and faith that is required of adults to enter the kingdom of God. Verse 14, mentioned before, says “to such as these” belongs the kingdom. That’s the meaning of their unique existence—they point us to grace, to God’s undeserved favour that is poured out on the Cross for sinners.
God’s acceptance has nothing to do with what we’ve accomplished with our lives. His grace is given to those who really have done nothing—children. Grace is God giving to me something that I cannot obtain on my own. Grace is being accepted by God even though I do not deserve it, even though I am not worthy of it. Jesus is saying that if you want to grow up spiritually, you first need to become like a child.
The word children appears 482 times in the Bible—and the vast majority of the references do not refer to persons under the age of 12 but to individuals who are in a relationship with God. Spiritual maturity is described as ‘being like a child’. In order to grow up, we need to become younger. If we want to become a spiritual adult, we must first become a spiritual child. God sees us as his children. And, for those of us adults, if we want to become all that God wants for us, we must learn from children. That means we must watch them, listen to them, and even become like them.
We need to take it further and learn from Jesus, who took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. As he so often does, Jesus went beyond what was asked of him—he bent down, picked them up, put them in his arms, put his hands on them and gave them a verbal blessing. Jesus’ was a hands-on ministry—he touched them, he engaged with them.
Of course as parents, how important it is that we have that relationship. Children were highly valued by Jesus—he blessed them. And Jesus’d have said, No matter what happens, just remember I’m with you, children, even to the end of the age. How wonderful it is that Jesus demonstrated his love for children!
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