They were bringing children to Jesus for him to bless them, and the disciples turned them away. But when Jesus saw this, he was angry, and he said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to them. I tell you whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall never enter it!” And he took them in his arms and blessed them.
What is happening in our Gospel reading today?
Jesus had been teaching the people on his way to Jerusalem, and time after time crowds had gathered around him.
Most people found Jesus fascinating. Of course they had heard of him already; news travelled quickly. They knew what kind of things he said; what he stood for; how he cared for all people the lowly as well as the great.
They knew he was a very special and holy man of God, a miracle worker, a great healer, and storyteller and he was much in demand.
Though not all approved of Jesus. There were in that same crowd people who were very sceptical, some violently opposed, and out to trick him with their questions. Some held back, some had doubts. But most of the people wanted to listen and learn…his disciples were there too.
It was then that some parents stepped forward with their children.
The last time I was in a large crowd was on Friday, at Beamish…in the sweet shop in the back room where they actually make the sweets. We were watching a man, making rhubarb and custard sweets. It smelled good in there, the raising of each large flat sticky slab was fascinating; it was folded into a small pile, and it crumpled and melted into itself. Not only that, but there were free samples later….what was difficult for me was that I had my grand-daughter in my arms, and we didn’t have the best view of what was going on. We could only just see but we were right at the back, and it was very difficult for those of us who were carrying a child right at the back!
SO WHY DID THE PARENTS BRING THE CHILDREN FORWARD?
Why did the parents bother? Why make all that effort, when there was no guarantee that Jesus would see them?
What we are told is that they wanted his blessing upon them, in other words…
THE GOOD NEWS WAS THAT JESUS WANTED TO SEE THEM!
All of these reasons are why still people bring their children to the Christian faith today, So that Jesus will sweep them up into his arms…and know them forever, and point out the way to God and eternal life.
Jesus welcomed EACH ONE!
He was indignant with the disciples for wanting to distance them from him. To them and to his own church even today he says:-
Let them through, he said, let the children come to me, don’t stop them!
Let us in no way prevent children coming to him! Let us be active in our encouragement of them.
* And to the crowd themselves, and to each person today, he has this to say,
‘Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God, like a child, shall never enter it.’
In other words…whoever does not accept God and his rule upon their lives, as innocently, as readily, as openly and in full trust, as a child …well they will not be part of it!
So somehow being too adult with reservations, suspicions, lack of forgiveness, doubts and worldliness somehow keeps us from fully knowing God.
The children suddenly became his visual aid to everyone!’
* N has been brought here today, for much the same reasons as I have outlined to you. (but for BAPTISM,, NOT JUST A BLESSING)~ He is our visual aid today.
A way out! Out must go sin, death, slavery, guilt , darkness!
A way in: for us to enjoy God forever, cleansed , set free, given a new start/ life, and the way in to eternal life.
We’re praying that N ‘s parents and his godparents will play a full part in seeing that N grows up not just knowing about God through Jesus, but knowing God in every sense of the word…through prayer, through stories that Jesus told, and through their own behaviour and example, so that one day N will come and say his own ‘YES’ to faith in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
(The song ‘Here’s a child for you O Lord,’ by Estelle White is very appropriate here.)