My Children – October 4, 2015

“My Children”
Job 1:1, 2:1-10 Mark 10:2-16
Hear again…our Lord’s words…”I tell you the truth…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
The word that is translated “never” is very strong. New Testament scholar, William Lane, writes “The solemn pronouncement is directed to the disciples, but has pertinence for all men confronted by the gospel because it speaks of the condition for entrance into the Kingdom of God.” It’s not so much whether you come to the Lord’s Table this morning…it’s the attitude with which you come to the table.
No one will get into the kingdom of God unless that person receives God’s salvation like a child…no one! How are we to understand and apply this? For starters…coming as a little child does not suggest innocence. Anyone who has experienced life with a two year old will tell you that. Neither does “like a little child” suggest trustfulness…receptivity…simplicity or wonder…as beautiful as each of these happens to be.
What Jesus had in mind here is a state which every child who has ever lived…regardless of race…culture…or background has experienced. It’s a feeling…admission and acceptance of helpless dependence. Every single child in the world is absolutely…completely…totally helpless. And…so it is with every child who is born into the Kingdom of God. Children of the Kingdom enter it helpless…ones for whom everything must be done. If you open your hymnal to #361…Rock of Ages…you’ll find these words…in the third verse…. Nothing in my hand I bring Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace. There is no other meaning for verse 15 in the Scripture from Mark 10. Do we come to Christ like this? You see…it’s his grace plus our nothingness. The realization that we are as helpless as a child should create humility.
Jesus made this clear in similar scripture from Matthew (18: 3-4) He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Many who are in and of the world refuse to come to Christ because of what they call “self-respect”. That’s another way of saying pride and independence. How humiliating they would think it is to come as a helpless child! But…Jesus says…”That is the way you must come…as a baby…filled with profound obedience…and dependence.
Did you see what happened to the children waiting to see Jesus? “He took the children in his arms…put his hands on them and blessed them.” Children were always comfortable with Jesus. They knew he loved them. They laid their heads against Jesus’ chest. Jesus blessed them. John Albert Bengel…a German…is often known as the Father of modern Biblical scholarship. He wrote that Jesus “…did more than they asked.” The word translated blessed in our Bible means “fervently blessed.” Christ took the children joyfully and with a fervent heart…for they refreshed his spirit. Do you desire to be like the child…held in Christ’s arms…to hear him pronounce blessings over you? Jesus raised the place of children in society of his day…and today. He believed they can know him as truly as anyone else…perhaps more truly…that they can have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Jesus also made it clear that we need the faith of children. No one will enter the Kingdom of God without this helpless dependence and humility.
On this World Communion Sunday…when Christians of all denominations…from all over the world…join in the sacrament…Jesus invites each of us to his Table…just as he invited the children…to come to him…unhindered…to the Kingdom of God…in helpless obedience…leaving all of the “self-respecting”… worldly-status-concerned…you… behind. Let us come to Jesus’ table with grateful hearts…as children of God…full of thanks for sustaining us in the good and the difficult times in our lives. Terrorism…war…hatred…division…and lack of trust surround us…but through the bread and cup…we learn to love and trust others.
Through the bread and cup we gain strength…courage…and guidance that we may not be defeated in our task to proclaim God’s word around the corner and around the globe. As we come to the table…to be with our Lord and with our brothers and sisters…let us pray for and receive courage and strength to live our faith…even in the most difficult circumstances. Let us receive the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit…that we may be faithful…and like the children…love others as Jesus loved us to death on the cross.
Let us come to the Lord’s table to become one with each other…and with all…in love, patience and understanding. Let us become the children Jesus would have us be.