Hymns: 680 Showers of Blessing 710 There's a Friend for little Children
Bible Reading Mark 10:13-16
The disciples got into trouble again for their bad attitude. It seems that their very temperament was unsuited to their calling as disciples of Christ. So many attitudes had to be fixed for them to be Christlike servants. Sanctification is an ongoing work in the believer's life. We need to be constantly brought into line to be better servants of Christ and good stewards of souls.
This time, the disciples' had a bad attitude about the place of children in the life and ministry of the Lord. Children can be looked on by some as nuisances and bothersome to the respectable work of ministering to mature adults. We soon discover that the Lord's attitude was on the side of kids of the tenderest age as we witness how He took every opportunity to include them and minister to them.
There are a number of heart lessons for us in this seemingly side-incident in the ministry of our Lord. These lessons can make a great difference in the life of Christian families and the Christian church.
We need to learn of the Saviour's heart for children.
He received them (Mark 10:16). We should picture the gentle and gracious manner in which the Lord invited these parents with babes and toddlers to approach Him. This reception is a picture of the gospel reception repentant sinners will receive from the Lord. These little ones were the model which the Lord used to teach the humility of heart needed to seek His grace.
He touched them. "He took them up in his arms, put his hands on them."
He prayed for them. "and blessed them." That would be a signal of transfer of blessing upon the children. That was what the parents of these children desired (Matt. 19:13).
Think of it! The Son of God in human form holding children in his arms and praying to His Father for the Father's grace upon these little ones. The Lord did nothing without the will and blessing of His Father. Prayer was the power of communication that linked up Father and Son in blessing this world.
From this scene, we learn the value of prayer in the Lord's church. We must have the Father's blessing on our work and upon the children whom we teach and raise in the gospel. Without prayer for God's blessing, the outward means are powerless.
We should ask for the Lord's heart to minister to children. We should pray much to our Heavenly Father to pour out His blessing, even to set them apart for Himself. To be nurtured in the gospel of Christ is to be like a plant in a greenhouse. What a difference to be a child that is prayed for versus a child whose soul is neglected!
We learn of the hindrances to children which adults must avoid.
The disciples were guilty of despising these little children. They might have justified their attitude by wanting to protect the Lord from petty nuisances, but in doing so forgot the worth of a child's soul and their value in heaven.
The Lord taught in Matthew 18:10 that their angels behold the face of the Father in heaven. I'm not sure that each child has a one-to-one angel, but angels are assigned over them, which shows the Father's personal interest in them.
The Lord had to say, "Suffer the little children to come unto and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." To actually turn down a parent's request to bring their children to Jesus was really bad. We need to check our attitude and our approach to children in the Lord's work. Parents also need to check their hearts also that they do not stand in the way of their own children as they would seek God's blessing.
We must never forget that children have souls to be saved. A child's soul is of more value than the whole world. They have consciences to know right from wrong and have the ability to receive spiritual things at a very early age. The Church of Rome claims to affect children for life if they are taught up to the age of seven. Those are the years of deep and lasting impressions. Therefore, children should be included in family devotions at home and in church services. Family prayer should include every child. Church worship should include the children, even in the mid-week prayer meeting. Parents should be encouraged to come as a family to prayer meetings so that the children will learn to pray. If a boy or girl can sing to the Lord then he or she can also pray to the Lord. If a child can read the Bible then he or she should be encouraged to claim the promises of the Bible in prayer. There is no age limit for these things, so each young person should be fully engaged in all forms of worship from early years. Let the future generation of church people say, They never knew it any other way.
We learn of the hopes that we must claim for children.
Our hope is that they are candidates for the kingdom of heaven because they possess a child's nature.
They are humble. Self-will is the natural enemy of the gospel. A proud spirit will rebel against the rule of the Lord and harden hearts. Even a child's Adamic sin-nature soon produces its briars and thorns. Childhood is the optimum time for sowing gospel seed.
They are receptive. The Lord said,"Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein" (Mark 10:15). The ear of a child will be open to the truth. Their questioning is usually a display of hunger to know the truth rather than a display of questioning the truth. We know, however, that the Holy Spirit must convict of sin and grant faith to that child. Yet, after we have learned that the Saviour takes delight in children who come to Him, so we can fully expect the Holy Spirit to reveal the Lord to them and give them hearts to believe on and receive the Saviour.
They are innocent of the world. Children growing up in a Christian home should have minds free from the vices of this world. Their minds should be free from the propaganda of this world. To sow the gospel in their hearts should be like planting seed in good soil. It is wise to take every opportunity to teach and train our children in the way of the Lord. The Holy Spirit uses truth to convict of sin and convert. Peter taught that, "We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1Peter 1:23).
These things fill us with hope for our children and for little ones in the church. We note from the close of this scene that the Lord proceeded to bless the children (v16). We pray, Let it be so with our children too.
Too often even Christian parents fill their children's lives with sports programs and extra-curricular activities, even on Sundays, that may be good for their bodies. But are they doing so to the neglect of their souls? Parents will never regret taking their children to Sunday School, church services and prayer meetings. We would that all parents were as those whom the disciples contended with, who wanted the Lord to bless their children. Our church doors and our hearts must be open to ministering to the children. Some families report that churches offer sports and entertainment to children in their "church programs" during Sunday services and have failed to minister to the souls of the children. Let us not be guilty of neglecting the souls of children under our care. We begin by praying for them and for all who are raising children for the Lord.