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What Jesus Said About Children

March 8, 2009
Our congregation has chosen as its theme for 2009, “Jesus is Lord!” In keeping with that theme, we have been teaching a series of classes we are calling the “Red Letter Series,” studying things Jesus taught on various topics. Today I want to focus on some things Jesus said about children.

Godly Qualities of Children

Mat 21:14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
Mat 21:15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
Mat 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”

Jesus had entered Jerusalem to palm branches and Hosanna’s earlier in the same chapter. Throngs of adults with children crowded to road as he rode into town on a colt, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Later, in the temple, the children continued the refrain. Perhaps the adults were just a little too inhibited by supposed propriety, pride, or fear of the Jewish leaders. But the children had no such inhibitions. They praised Jesus from their uncomplicated, sincere, and humble hearts. As Christians saved by the blood of Jesus, we should praise him like those children.

In our congregation, all children above 3 years old join their adults for the worship service. They have the opportunity to observe their parents singing to God, praying, taking communion, and listening to the sermon with rapt attention (and taking notes!) What a great opportunity this is for the children to learn about worship from the adults! And what a shame it would be if those children saw their parents, or the other adults, with halfhearted attention to the worship service! We adults should worship with our whole hearts, like the children shouting “Hosanna!” When we do less than that, we are leading the children astray.

Mat 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Mat 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them.
Mat 18:3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus held up the example of a small child, calling his disciples to have the same kind of humility. Small children know they need their parents. They have no illusion of self-sufficiency. They completely trust their parents for food, shelter, and safety. Jesus pointed to the humility of a particular child — one who came when Jesus called him, and who stood in their midst obediently while Jesus used him as an object lesson. He called them to humble themselves like “this child.”

Not everything about children is to be imitated. Paul identified to the Corinthian church another characteristic of children we should imitate:

1Co 14:20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

We should be like infants regarding evil. Small children have an innocence that most adults sadly lack. Things that used to shock us adults no longer shock us. We see things on television today that would not have been tolerated thirty years ago. We hear language that once we found offensive, which too many of us accept as normal today. We need to return to the innocence of children, to purify our hearts, and to be shocked once again when sin is paraded in front of us.

Interactions with children

Mat 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Most of us have have heard the above passage so many times that it no longer takes our breath away. But those who first heard Jesus issue this warning must have gone home talking about it. Jesus chose dramatic terms to warn us not to cause children to sin. Suffice it to say, a person thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck has no hope of returning to the surface. Are we causing children to sin? Jesus wants us to think about that question.

Why is it such a big deal to cause a child to sin? Maybe because a young child still has a chance to get off to a right start in life. Adults need to protect that opportunity, and to guide the child in the right way. Instead, some parents allow their children to watch the most worldly television shows, to be bombarded by advertising which produces greedy addiction to materialism. They allow their children’s character to be corrupted by bad companions (1 Cor 15:33). They allow them to wear immodest clothes. They leave their children to spend all day under the influence of worldly values, drifting ever farther from God. In doing so the parents contribute to their children’s sin, and may come under the warning above.

The church of Jesus, and particularly the parents among us, need to get radical about being separate from contemporary culture. If we don’t do more than we are right now, we will lose the battle for our children’s souls.

Mat 18:10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Mat 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Mat 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Mat 19:15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Jesus clearly demonstrated that he felt the children were worth his time, and he insisted they are worth ours as well. He received them, prayed for them, and laid his hands on them. He was indignant when his disciples interfered. It is never a good thing to do what makes Jesus indignant!

I wonder what Jesus prayed on behalf of each child as he placed his hands on them. Perhaps his prayer for them was the same as his prayer for all of us in John 17:

Joh 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Jesus gave these children his heart as well as his time. He wanted them protected from the evil one. Whether we are parents or not, we need to follow the example of Jesus with the children in our midst. We need to greet the children in the fellowship. We need to take time during the week to be their mentors, to take a child out for a hamburger, to show that we value them and to share our lives with them. We need to be willing to teach their Bible classes.

Jesus’ mission of saving the world did not mean he was too busy for the children. On the contrary, they were an important part of his mission. We should follow his example, and use every resource available to share with them our love for God, and to protect them from the evil one. Let’s make it our mission to bring the next generation to God!

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One comment

  1. Oh goodness. I never thought that my sin of yelling and impatience causing my son to sin too. I am working on the yelling. Day 2.What truth Alan, because I sooooooo see this huge ugly world out there. I am shocked on a daily basis. Before you know it the devil is gonna be dressing up weeping and gnashing as “hip and modern”. Seriously. Thanks for the encouragement to engage the kids at service.



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