Luke 18.15-17 Audio
Entering the Kingdom Like a Child
Two weeks ago, we saw the persistent attitude God’s people are to have when they approach Him in prayer…be persistent in prayer was Jesus’ point when He told the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. We persist in prayer.
Then last week, we saw the proper way to come to God is humble and repentant as we saw the Tax Collector praying far off, be merciful to me a sinner.
And in that story, Jesus spoke about a man who was personally very confident of his status and his deeds before God, but who left his time of prayer not declared right with God. Whereas, a tax collector who recognized that he had no claim because of his status and he had no deeds to commend him to God, had cried out to God for mercy. And what does Jesus say about him? “He went down to his house justified” – declared right with God, forgiven, accepted, pardoned.
This week, Luke shows us another aspect in coming to God. We come to God with child-like faith or we could say we come to God in complete dependence on Him.
Summing up the last three weeks:
We see the importance of Persistence, The Importance of Penitence, and today, the importance of Dependence.
Jesus wants us to understand that we can only receive the Kingdom of God as a gift, like a child receives a gift. A child does not think about conditions or what he owes God for the gift but simply receives it.
It was an ancient custom for all in Palestine to bring their one year olds to the local rabbi to be blest. Usually on their first birthday or shortly thereafter, infants would be brought to the Rabbi and he would place his hands on the children and pray that God would bless them.
In keeping with this tradition, who better to bring their small children to than Jesus? After all, they saw in Jesus a perfect teacher and law-keeper.
Those in ancient days saw children as unimportant. Many children were left abandoned. Mortality rate was very high in those days for infants.
Jesus uses this situation as a teachable moment with His followers. He shows that one enters God’s Kingdom not with impressive credentials but in total dependence on God.
Please hear God’s Word for GCC…
15 oNow they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they prebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, q“Let the children come to me, and rdo not hinder them, qfor to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 sTruly, I say to you, whoever does not treceive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
1. Jesus Welcomes Children (15-16a)
15 oNow they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they prebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, q“Let the children come to me, and rdo not hinder them,
The same account recorded in Mark’s Gospel has the setting for the children being brought to Jesus in a house. Which makes a lot of sense since it seems the disciples were probably outside turning those with children away. Not enough room for everyone, please leave you and your children…
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
Jesus seeing what they were doing immediately corrected them and showed that these children were not unimportant but instead very important. They were a wonderful picture of the faith needed of everyone who would enter God’s Kingdom.
Jesus picks the children up one by one and blesses them. Again we turn to Mark’s account:
16And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
It seems that a small group of parents had brought their children to Jesus. It could be that He was also healing others by touching them and they wanted Jesus to also touch their children and pray for them. It doesn’t seem to be a mystical touch but it seems as if Jesus placed His hands on each child and prayed for them, blessing them.
The disciples probably felt as if the Master shouldn’t be troubled with children and that they were taking up His precious time. However, Jesus didn’t think so. He strongly rebukes the disciples for rebuking the parents.
There are a few things we should notice here:
First, it was the parents, Fathers and Mothers who brought their children to Jesus. It wasn’t the neighbors. It wasn’t the Sunday School teacher. It wasn’t Public School teacher. It wasn’t grandma or grandpa…it was the parents. These parents loved their children and they saw in Jesus One worthy of extending God’s blessing to their children.
Second, Jesus took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. I’ve been asked by a number of parents over the years when they begin to see the truth of the doctrine of election, what if my children are not elect?
Let’s learn a very good lesson from these parents. They didn’t think about all that but simply brought their young children to Jesus. Notice with me that He took them in His arms and blessed them. He didn’t say, well let’s see who’s elect and who’s not. No, He took them all in His arms, one by one and prayed for them and blessed them. Parents, never worry about whether your children are elect or not, simply trust in the fact that Jesus receives little children and when they are older, trust in the fact that Jesus receives sinners. He will accept every child and every adult who comes to Him for salvation.
Third, If Jesus receives infants who have not done anything good, He receives us based on His good works not on ours.
As parents today, we can’t bring our children and place them in Jesus’ arms but we can bring our children to Jesus. We can’t save them but we can prepare them for salvation.
Barbara Porter, very wise Director of Children’s Ministries at Ligon Duncan’s Church had this to say concerning bringing your children to Jesus. She wrote down thirteen things that she thinks Christian parents need to know and understand about bringing our children to Jesus, about rearing them in the knowledge of the Lord.
And this is what Barbara says:
1. Make sure that you are guarding, nourishing, and focusing on your own spiritual condition. Are you putting Christ first? Do you make time to worship, fellowship with other Christians, read the Word of God, and pray?
2. The example you set as parents is crucial to rearing Christian disciples. Do you realize the importance of living out your Christian faith every day in front of your children? Do they see that Christ is first in your life and that you seek to glorify Him in everything you do?
3. Demonstrate to your children that your relationship with your spouse is the most important human relationship that you have, and prove this by showing respect for your spouse and displaying sacrificial love and physical affection for him or her.
4. Show your child and tell your child that you love them every day. Work diligently at building a relationship with them. Take time from their earliest days to communicate with them about deep and important things.
5. Read the Word of God with your child and pray with and for your child every day.
6. Give your child responsibilities. Do whatever it takes to create within him or her a godly work ethic. Do not do for your children what they are capable of doing for themselves. Those who hate work are among the most unhappy and unfulfilled people in this world. Adam and Eve had responsibilities to fulfill even in the Garden of Eden before sin entered into the world. Work is truly a great gift from the Lord.
7. Do not bail your children out of the consequences that arise because of their own actions and choices. (I could read that one again seven times!) It is essential for them from their earliest days to learn that sin has consequences. You will not always be there to rescue them and you should not enable them.
8. Teach by example that Christ expects us to be presenting our bodies to Him as living sacrifices. The world teaches that it is all about us, breeding those who love themselves first and best. Give them opportunities from their earliest years to serve others, those inside and outside the church. Take them on a short-term mission trip so that they can see the extent of their own blessings and the extent of others’ deprivation.
9. Teach them respect for others. Show them by example that it is the soul of another person that they should value and not the person’s outer shell. Part of showing respect for others involves on their part: modest dress, inclusion, encouragement, forgiveness, praise, and setting a godly example.
10. Impress upon their children the brevity of this earthly life. God compared it to a vapor. Analyze your desire to accumulate things. We must demonstrate to our children by our actions and priorities that material things will never be enough and they will never satisfy us. One day we will all give an account of our lives to our Creator. Only one life will soon be passed. Only what is done for Christ will last. Help your children to understand that this earth is not our home and therefore we should not treat it as such.
11. Demand and command respect from your children. If they do not respect you, whom they can see, how will they ever be able to respect God, whom they cannot see? Do you live in such a way that you are worthy of their respect? Do you say one thing and yet do another? Even a young child can spot a hypocrite.
12. Teach your children that pleasing God is their ultimate goal. To do this means sometimes being alienated from the crowd. Pray with your child for one friend who is godly and true. God will provide this friend.
13. Make sure your discipline is consistent and abounding in mercy. These principles must be put into place from a child’s earliest days. It’s easier to build children than to repair men. If children grow up with these truths as a part of their everyday lives, it will make the job of parenting them as teenagers a more joyful experience.
I want to also remind everyone that while these are some very good god-honoring principles there is no guarantee that if you do these things or any other thing that everything will always turn out great. We cannot save our children. However, we must bring them up in the fear of God.
It’s these types of principles that Parents can instill in the hearts of their children that will make a difference.
2. Child-like Faith Receives the Kingdom (16b-17)
qfor to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 sTruly, I say to you, whoever does not treceive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
While it’s so important that parents raise their children in a godly environment and impress upon them biblical truths, there is one thing young children can teach us…childlike trust.
If we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must do so in total trust and dependence on Him. We cannot enter by means of religion or good deeds. We cannot enter because we’ve been honest in business dealings, or because we’re upstanding citizens. We cannot enter because we share some of the views God has. We may agree with God’s view of the traditional marriage between one man and one woman for life. But holding a biblical view of an issue will not qualify you to enter the Kingdom of God. Only when we say, God, be merciful to me a sinner and mean it with our whole heart are we qualified to enter.
A small child is completely dependent on his parents for everything; now that is how we must be toward God. Small children do not sit around and explain to their parents all the good things they’ve done for them.
Jesus took these little ones in His arms and taught the adults by showing what total dependence looks like.
Small children are full of trust. They’ve not yet learned to be suspicious of everything. Small children are not skeptics but trust. Jesus wants His followers to trust God in everything, even the things that may not make complete sense.
Do you believe and trust God like a child? In faith we are to strive to trust God completely as our heavenly Father. We must strive to have child-like faith.
MATTHEW 18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you u turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 x Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these a 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.