Let the Children Come

 

Text:  Matthew 19:13-15

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes in the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Why are some of your hairs white, mom?”

Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or become unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for awhile and then said, “Momma, how came ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Ouch! O’ the honesty of children. It might be a young girl thing because I can remember the honesty of Emily often creeping into our conversations when she was still very young. It was sometimes embarrassing but, she was usually right. Now I can look back and see how it benefitted me even if it made me want to find refuge from awkwardness at the time.

Today, we speak of children. Now, we can all count ourselves among members to hold this title because we are all children of the living God. Today, we welcome all our new members and each one of them can be assured they are loved by both their Father in heaven and all us fellow children in His church at Redeemer.

But, it’s not only the old among us that can claim this title, of which I will speak, but also the young among us, not yet tarnished by the world. Today we speak of possibly the greatest humanly gift of all, our children.

If you’re a parent I’m sure you’re like me when you look back at the life that God has blessed you with and you can’t imagine it without your kids. For a moment every now and then you can fantasize about it when they’ve been especially bad, but none of us would look back and wish we never would have had them.

In our young children we see hope and untainted faith. In them we see so much optimism and joy, at least if we have raised them properly. It’s a kind of faith and hope and joy mixed with optimism we wish we all had.

Yet, those of us who have passed from childhood to adulthood have seen too much of the shortfalls of the world. We’ve all had the experience of suffering because of the limitations of mankind. Our childlike faith has been corrupted by worldly skepticism, our hope has been strained by man’s attempts to override God and our joy has been sullied by the constant complaints we hear throughout our day. We have been marked by sin and we long for the days of our childhood when we could just believe for Christ’s sake.

In our Gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus is resting from His travels and the large crowd following do the same.

Some of the parents took the opportunity to bring their children to Jesus so He might bless them and pray over them. This was a common practice for Rabbi’s to do in Jesus time. It was a common thing that parents would bring their children to the temple to be blessed.

To Jesus, this wasn’t a disturbance He wanted to squash, this was a great opportunity to do what He came to earth to do. His presence among us wasn’t just for those who could properly understand the lessons he was teaching. It was for all people, especially the children who would be growing into their faith. This was a grand opportunity for Jesus to individually bless the children who would one day grow to be leaders in His church.

Jesus saw little children as he would like us to see them. He knew that they inherited the same image of God, the same opportunity for redemption and the same promise of everlasting life that all believers have been given. He knew that one day, they would grow up with the same weaknesses and shortfalls as all of humanity grows into.

So, He wanted to bless them for their journey ahead into adulthood and faithfulness. Faithfull warriors would be needed in the decades and centuries to come and they would be among the rank of the young who found themselves in His arms this day.

Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Do you hear these words? Jesus Himself is welcoming them, longing for them. He didn’t shoo them away because they weren’t living the perfect life. He knew that children suffer with the same plague of sin like the rest of us. Yet he welcomes them, touches them, blesses them, prays over them…..loves them.

Compare His response to that of His disciples. Again, they are proving that they simply didn’t get it. Where there was opportunity they saw disruption. They were like us in many ways when we have to deal with children. Instead of seeing them for what they are, God’s precious creations, we see them as better seen than heard. Like the disciples we too often write them off as a nuisance when we should be learning from them. Like the disciples, we don’t see the beauty, we see them as inconveniences.

Jesus attitude was consistent as God.  Psalm 127:3 states, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” 

If we take the time, we can learn so much about faith and hope and joy from our children. They teach us so much about God, His kingdom and His love for the vulnerable, weak, and frail among us. His acceptance of them, speaks a loud and clear message of the kind of welcome we can all expect as His children, and the personal touch He has on each life.

Jesus longed to bless the weak. These little children so trusting and eager were a great joy to Him. Again, Jesus is beings consistent in love. His devotion to His people young and old made the blind to see and the deaf to hear. His passion for the weak made the lame to walk the dead to rise. And now, the greatest gift of them all is being given to the children He loves, His blessing.

And this great love and responsibility is to be handed down to parents to teach and to bless.  From Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God has given us the great gift of children with a purpose, to bring them up in the fear of the Lord. To teach them the ways of God and to encourage them in their path of faith. It is now our responsibility to raise our kids to become the people God has created them to be.

It’s a great responsibility to be sure because their eternal life, in many ways, depends upon it.

And the greatest lessons they learn don’t come from books. They don’t come from seminar’s, or Catechism or even from worship. The greatest lessons are learned in the actions of their teachers, their parents.

If your devotion to God is great, they will stand a much better chance of having great faith themselves. If you create a Godly home, then their homes will probably be blessed for it. If you live your life always shining the light of Christ, that same light will most likely shine in them. Our children are watching us to see if we mean what we say. They are constantly learning as they watch us live our lives in faith.

The emphasis from God to teach the commandment to love God and each other shows how much God wants for all His children no matter their age. He wants both to come to Him in worship and praise. He wants us never to forget Him even though the world might try to block Him from our memory. And these lessons all start in our youth.

From Matthew 18:1-6: At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  This responsibility to teach and to learn from our children is taken very seriously by God.

Do you hear in these words also, how God desires people to be blessed by learning humility from their children. It warms the heart of God when we come bumbling and stumbling to Him like children who are just learning to walk. He knows our weaknesses and, like He did for the children in our Gospel lesson, He wishes to bless us. When we come to Him weak, frail and afraid, His greatest wish is to provide us with strength, endurance and courage.

And all of these blessings he so willingly gives us, came because of the steep price he had to pay so that we might be free to receive them. When Christ died, He died for all children both great and small.    1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” The only one who could ever claim righteousness died for all of the unrighteous. Because, in reality, we never stop the learning we began as children. Perfection will never be ours so the lessons remain.

1 Corinthians 5:21, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” You see, the lessons that began with our parents as teachers in our youth, continue on because Christ wants to bless all of us.

Our children are such a blessing to us and Jesus wants you to see in them what the disciples could not see. These same children that He was blessing would one day grow up and give Christ’s blessing to their own children. Together they would learn from each other the life of righteousness. The church would continue and it all would all start from a simple blessing and a timely prayer from the Messiah.

Now it’s up to us to continue these same traditions. Bless your children by being a blessing to them. Teach them Godliness by living a Godly life. Show them the passion of Christ by being passionate for Christ.

Our children are our greatest blessing. Bless them in return by living Christ. Be the example to all children, whether yours or not, of the faithful servant.  Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” May we be so blessed. Amen.

 

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