Sermon preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on 19 July 2015
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Luke 18 v 15-17
As we continue working through Luke’s gospel, we remind ourselves that Luke is reporting on the period in Jesus’ ministry when he is on His way to Jerusalem, where the events of Holy Week are about to unfold. As he makes that journey, Luke reports on the events, the discussions and the lessons learned during that period. Jesus has just been teaching on humility, and this lesson follows closely on from it.
It is interesting to reflect on the thought that much of the teaching of Jesus came as a result of questions that were asked, stories that were told and, as here, events that were told. In the situation of having children brought to him for his blessing, Jesus take the opportunity to teach his disciples some important lessons, which are recorded for us here.
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
1. Bringing Them
Even today people bring their babies to the priest, to the Queen to politicians or to celebrities. Somehow there is a thought that if we bring our babies to someone important, some of their magic will rub off. It was well-established practice to bring your baby to the Rabbi for a blessing. But this is different. Here we have parents bringing their little ones to Jesus.
For those of us who are parents, there is nothing in our lives that is a bigger responsibility. To bring our children to Jesus, to ask his blessing on, and his intervention in their lives is surely the most important thing we can do for them.
2. Letting them
But wait – there’s a problem. The disciples of Jesus have a problem with it. Often those who put up the biggest barrier to Jesus working are those who are already following Him. That is true of Christians, and sometimes churches, who, although they may pay lip service to the idea of God blessing their children, in effect refuse to make the changes and the accommodation that makes it possible. We have to so organise our lives and our churches that the utmost priority is given to whatever is going to facilitate children coming to Jesus. That will involve pain, discomfort and challenge: children do not behave as they did in the 1950’s.
3. Becoming Like them
Now we come to the main learning point that Jesus has for us through this part of his word. He makes the staggering assertion that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. What did he mean? Are we to imitate selfishness, irresponsibility and silliness that exists amongst children? Surely Jesus means that a simple, childlike, uncomplicated decision to trust Jesus is what is necessary to become a Christian. And to live like a Christian, we need to continue in the same way. Simple, childlike, trusting, uncomplicated faith in a god who loves us, who knows what is best for us is what isneeded foe us to possess the Kingdom and all its promises. Let’s be like the Kids!