Mark 10:13-16English Standard Version (ESV)
Let the Children Come to Me
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciplesrebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Why Jesus Blessed the Little Children
Accompanying David Legge sermon: The Sanctity of Marriage and the Security of Children
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Disciples and Their Children
MacArthur's Bible Commentary notes that...
most, if not all, of these children would have been too young to exercise personal faith. Jesus' words imply that God graciously extends salvation to those who are too young or too mentally impaired to exercise faith.
We need to receive the kingdom of God like a child - with humble, trusting dependence, and the recognition of having achieved nothing of value or virtue
Rayburn points out that little children bring nothing to the table - they need everything ....
And the Lord extends the point to embrace every Christian. We bring nothing to God but the sin and guilt from which we need to be redeemed. Followers of Jesus Christ are those who know that they have been saved by grace and grace alone and the proof of that is that the kingdom belongs to helpless babies....
(Note: Rayburn believes in paedobaptism, and that children of Christians are to be viewed as Christians unless they prove to be otherwise as they grow older, so that is the viewpoint he is taking here)
The fact is the Lord made this point by making a statement about children that was the direct contradiction of the disciples’ prejudice and then goes on to say that children are to be welcomed not simply as an illustration of how things are in the kingdom of God but precisely because they belong to the kingdom of God. The lesson the Lord draws for every Christian is only significant if the theology of children the Lord articulates here is both true and important. And Jesus says that this is the truth about the children of the church and his irritation with his disciples’ and with their view of these children as a bother and an interruption indicates the importance he attaches to the point....
it is inevitably asked: surely not all Christian children prove to be believers in their adult life? And, alas, that is so. The Bible says it is so and shows us that it is so. This is a promise and a privilege that parents and churches and covenant children themselves can forfeit by unbelief and disobedience. But in this they are as any other Christian. We know alas of people who came into the church as adults or young people. They professed to be Christians. They thought themselves to be Christians and we also thought them to be Christians. For a time they lived as Christians. But time proved both of us wrong. They went back to the world like a dog to its vomit. We cannot understand this but we know it happens. The Lord told us it would. But at no point is the possibility that a convert might return to the world allowed to undermine the obligation of the church to disciple him, to expect faithfulness from him, to help him to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord. The possibility of failure is never made the principle of sanctification. Everywhere in the Bible, adults who profess faith in Christ and their children are immediately treated as Christians, spoken to as Christians, expected to conduct themselves as Christians, encouraged as Christians, and so on. The Bible never suggests that we are to wait to see if a new Christian will stick before we begin treating him or her as a Christian. Quite the contrary. Discipleship, training and spiritual development begin immediately.
Well so with Christian children. Very clearly one doesn’t do one’s duty to a young Christian by worrying about the possibility that he or she might defect at some future date. One does one’s duty to young Christians by loving them in God’s happy and expressive and faithful way, by teaching them the Bible, by helping them to exercise their faith in the presence and promises of God, by teaching them to pray, by firmly but affectionately correcting their mistakes, by setting an example of godliness that they will want to emulate themselves, and by reminding them again and again what an unspeakably great privilege it is to have had the knowledge of the Lord and the gift of eternal life from the very headwaters of one’s life.
And as the Bible assures us and as we can see with our own eyes, children raised that way in their homes and in their churches grow up to love and serve the Lord. They do in vast numbers.
The fact is this doctrine that the children of believers belong to the kingdom of God is as fundamental to the welfare of the church and the people of God as is the fidelity of Christian marriages, the subject treated in the previous paragraph and the subject we took up last Lord’s Day morning. The embrace of our children, their welcome in the household of God, as little Christians and our training of them and our expectations for them accordingly are crucial to the growth, the stability, and the influence of the gospel and the Christian church in the world....
when Christian families and the Christian church fail to realize the magnificent potential of this reality, that they bring children into the world who already belong to the kingdom of God, and when they fail to embrace their calling to disciple these little Christians, when they neither faithfully teach them, discipline them, nor set for them a winning example of Christian faith, life, and love they not only squander their children – terrible as that is to contemplate – they squander the church’s power, her influence in the world, and so the salvation of untold multitudes of other human beings whose salvation depends upon a vibrant, growing church in the world.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 10:17-22
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