Jesus and Children | Matthew 19:13-15
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 19:13–19:15
Good Morning! We are in our series on the book of Matthew; the Gospel account of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, as the Christ, the Savior – King of God’s people. This series covering Chapters 14-20 has been titled the Revelation of the King. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, in all that he does he is revealing Himself to the world. Jesus is also savior of his people; he will consistently point his people to the height of his mission, the cross. Jesus has revealed and displayed his identity as King, he has continued on his mission of establishing his kingdom, and has been declaring the values of his kingdom Jesus, and his disciples, are now on the move towards Jerusalem and ultimately the cross. Jesus is always training disciples while on mission. Last week we saw how our marriages are to reflect the love Jesus has for the Church. Today we will see how parenting and the church is to display what the love of the Father is like.
Matthew 19:13-15 13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Verse 13 | Disparaging Disciples and Desperate Parents
Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. The Kingdom is being preached and Jesus disciples are getting excited about what’s next (completely forgetting Jesus is clear the mission will lead to his suffering and death). Disciples have visions of a grand entrance and glory in Jerusalem with power and status being conferred to them. There is something that seems to be messing this idea all up. People keep coming up to them with all these little children they want Jesus to bless. In nearly every society if there is something that embodies the opposite of power and status, it is children. Disciples misunderstood mission to think it somehow did not include children. They believed wrongly that Jesus’ Kingdom was for those who had something to contribute. Children, especially little children have very little to actively contribute in building a kingdom; they need and they consume. The disciples rebuked the parents for trying to “distract” Jesus from the “important” work of mission. The mission of the Gospel absolutely includes children. Children are not a distraction from the mission of Jesus, they are essential benefactor of the mission of Jesus. When I meet with other pastors and they ask how many people are in our church I tell them and they ask “does that included kids” I always tell them. “Yeah, Jesus counts them; so do we.” Kids are an important part of the mission of Damascus Road corporately and individually because God has blessed us with so many. If you’re not sure what your mission field is? Do you have kids? Yes? They are your first mission, Dad’s they are your first church. If you don’t have kids, you still have a roll in the body to point kids to Jesus.
Where there are disparaging disciples there are also desperate parents. These parents had an intense sense of urgency for their children to encounter Jesus. Why? In poor communities like Egypt or the Judean country side, nearly 50 percent of children born didn’t make it to their 12th birthday. Parents loved their children but also knew they were powerless on their own to ensure the quality and quantity of their life, let alone do something as lofty as bring them into the Kingdom. The parents had desperation for their children to be close to and blessed by Jesus. Jesus has the ability to actually do the blessing. The roll of parents is to point to and take their children to feet of Jesus. Parents we can do a lot, but we can’t save them only Jesus can. Desperate parents are prayerful parents; desperate parents are also intentional parents.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. As parents we should assume we have the primary role in training our children, not church, school. This can be accomplished a variety of ways but it requires intentionally. What is your plan? These parents grabbed their kids, and were carrying them towards Jesus. We need to have the same sense of intentional intensity. Read God’s Word to your kids, pray for/with your kids, lovingly discipline your kids, all with one goal. The goal of all training is to show children “the way” they should go is to the feet and arms of Jesus.
Verse 14 | Children and the Kingdom
Mark says Jesus was indignant when he saw his disciples treating children as second class citizens. We are to not “hinder” children from coming to Jesus. In the first century as well as today Jesus disciples were recognized, in part, with how they valued children compared to the rest of society. That is why we are active in supporting adoption, foster care, Compassion International, and the Pregnancy Resource Center. All children are a gift from God, and God’s people are to be counter cultural in how we view children.
This also specifically applies to how we treat our own children. There are ways we can stand in the way of our children coming to Jesus by how we act toward them. Do we as disciples pardoned by grace never extend mercy and grace to our children when they have disobeyed us? Do we as citizens of the king hinder them by never showing real consequences for sin or rebellion? What about pure inference? Are you affections, expectations, and pursuit of Jesus drawing your children to him or is your inaction (and other passions) preaching regular sermons that Jesus isn’t ultimately powerful or valuable? How do you hinder your children from seeing Jesus? This is convicting for me this week as I have not always been accused by my kids of being a patient guy. The way we love our children should reflect the way God loves us.
Why does Jesus lift up children as examples of life in the kingdom? Children are powerless and dependent on their parents. We are to be dependent on our Father in Heaven. Children, fully accept and submit (not perfectly) to someone greater than them. Children are loved, cared for, trained, encouraged, but they have no power, status or authority beyond their identification with their parents. Children have nothing to give and everything to receive. So they are, we should be. Jesus says our faith is to be child-like, not childish. Children go to their parents for answers, to share what they’ve created, or show what they’re accomplishing. Children sing, dance, play, and celebrate with joy. Children want to be loved by their parents. Children run to dad when they have experienced defeat, pain, or injustice with other children.
Verse 15 | Jesus loves His children
Jesus takes and blesses the children. Mark’s account says “He took them in his arms and blessed them.” Church traditions that practice Infant Baptism look at this verse as an example. Our church does not practice that tradition and Jesus doesn’t baptize the small children that are brought to him, but he does bless them. They need Jesus to bless them. There is a fundamental truth we need to understand, all children are sinners, yup even yours. This means all children are in desperate need of need salvation. Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. The reality is our children are not our own, they are His. God, in Jesus, loves our children more than we do. This is difficult to hear. Yes many of us we love our kids, we defend our kids, we champion our kids, and sacrifice for our kids, however all of us fail do to do these things perfectly and some of us have failed to do these at all. When fearful, selfish, or both we choose to abort our children at the rate of over 1 in 5 pregnancies. Divorce can lead to division where we don’t get to engage with our kids. What about miscarriages? What about infant disease or deaths? “You can’t tell me God loves our children more than I do when He lets things like this happen”. Our theology of God’s sovereignty salvation leads us to the greatest hope for our children, born or unborn.
God is good. Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
God creates children Ps 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. God loves children. Jesus simply says “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them”.
God saves! Revelation 7:10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The only hope we have for our children is our God the king, who saves, through Jesus the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. This is why we don’t hope in professions of faith only, because some children we never get to hear their voice, or see their hands raised in an altar call. This is why we don’t practice or place our hope in salvation in the practice of infant baptism because some children never make it out of the waters of the womb, or the care of the NICU. We hope in the character and nature of God. We hope in Jesus that calls children to himself, takes them in his arms, blesses them with His divine hands, and welcomes them into His kingdom.
In Christ We are His Children
In Christ we are God’s children. On our own we are sinners alienated from God deserving of His just wrath. Where our sin acts as like the disciples with the children rebuking us, keeping us from relationship with God, from healing, and from blessing. God is a great Father who loves his children. In Jesus, going to the cross absorbing all the wrath we deserve, God the Father is removing all that hinders us from being close to him. Jesus also rises and is alive and calling to us “come to me” and he touches us and blesses us with the Holy Spirit marking us with the promise that we are no longer rebels but royal children.
Romans 8:14-17 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We place our value, not in what we are or have done, but in who Jesus is and what He has done to make us become children of the King. Jesus suffered and died for us so we could rise and live with Him. Our only hope for our children is the only hope we have for ourselves, Jesus only. Trust Jesus.