June 9, 2024

Let the Children Come…

Passage: Luke 18:15-17

Jonah Albrecht

Christian Education Sunday

June 9th, 2024

Luke 18:15-17

Let the Children Come…

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

In the name of Jesus, Who enfolds us in His arms as His children, dear fellow redeemed:

“We believe that Christian education is important at all age levels, that all of Christ’s people in faith and love might grow in Him. We believe that our Lord has given parents the privilege and responsibility of training their children in the way of Jesus.” What I just read was taken from Redemption’s Welcome Folder under the section of Christian Education. 64 years ago, this dedication to Christian education began with the founding of Redemption Lutheran Church. 24 years later, in 1984, that conviction grew even stronger when Redemption opened up its Christian Day School. For the last 40 years, the invitation from our Lord to bring the little children to Him has been followed. Under the tutelage of faithful teachers, God’s Kingdom grew in the hearts and minds of God’s most precious creation.

Why is it that we have placed such a heavy importance on Christian Education? Because of what Jesus talks about in our text this morning. The Kingdom of God belongs to the one who is like a little child. One who grows in the knowledge of God with the simple, child-like faith that God produces. This morning, we are considering the theme: Let the Children Come.

Jesus had just finished teaching a parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. In this parable, both parties prayed to God, but only one had his prayer heard. The Pharisee prayed before the eyes of all, lauded himself, and went to God on the basis of his own righteousness. He did not go home justified because his faith was in himself, not God. The Tax Collector, on the other hand, hid away from the eyes of others and humbly confessed his sins before God, relying on God’s mercy to forgive him. He went home justified because his trust was in God his Savior.

At this point in His ministry, Jesus had gathered quite the following. He was known as a great teacher, but also, and perhaps more widely, as a healer. People would go to great lengths to bring their loved ones to Him in order to be healed and blessed by Him. People’s infants were no exception. And it makes sense. Infant mortality rate was fairly high in Jesus’ day. As a result, the average life expectancy was probably in the mid-thirties. With that in mind, would you not rush your child, to be blessed by a man of God, let alone the Son of God? Absolutely all of us would no matter how old our children would be.

The disciples, however, didn’t think the same way. They saw the mothers and infants as a mere nuisance. Jesus had more important things to worry about, like shutting down the Pharisees, healing terminally ill people, and preaching about the Kingdom of God. What the disciples failed to realize is that even these infants were to be recipients of the Kingdom of God.

Has the same temptation fallen into our own midst? In other “Christian” churches, babies aren’t baptized until they are of an age where they can “make a decision for Christ.” Other churches say they don’t need to be baptized until the age of accountability, that they aren’t sinful until a certain age. What does the Bible say? For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

 Everyone would love to look upon innocent babies and think that they have not been corrupted by the evil of this world. But that goes against the very teaching of Scripture. All of us, from the smallest to the greatest, have fallen into sin. We have been born with a sinful nature and are at enmity with God because of it. The infants that the people were bringing to Jesus needed to be healed by Him much more than the man who was blind, or paralyzed, or deaf, or whatever physical ailment. Because even the infants need to be healed spiritually from their wickedness and sin.

This is why Jesus rebukes His disciples firmly, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ heart went out to all people. He did not turn anyone away. He looked into the hearts both of young and old and saw the need each person had for salvation. He saw the need you and I have for salvation from our sins. It was that compassion, that love that kept His focus on the cross. It was there on the cross that Jesus paid for the sins of every single human. He suffered the punishment of hell for the babies who are yet in their mother’s womb. He was abandoned by His Father for the sins that you and I have recklessly committed. Jesus died so that the Kingdom of God could belong to anyone who has fallen short of the glory of God.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

I’m sure these words of Jesus startled His disciples at least a little bit. It sounds like Jesus is saying that unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a child, you cannot enter it as an adult. We know that is not what He is saying. In other places in Scripture, He talks about the rejoicing that happens when one repents of their sins and believes in Him as their Savior. Remember the thief on the cross? The evidence shows that was a last-minute conversion and Jesus gave Him the blessed news that he would be in paradise with Jesus.

No, what Jesus is referring to here is the faith and simple trust that a child often possesses. Have you ever seen a child go up to their parent and ask them a question? It really doesn’t matter what the parent answers. Outside of maybe a few, “Why? Why? Why?” the child takes the parents word for it because they trust that their mom and dad would not lead them in the wrong direction. It is that trust that Jesus is talking about here. This is not saying that we can never have questions about what God says in the Bible. It does mean that when the Bible does speak on something, we ought to take God’s Word for what it says and trust that He knows better than we do.

That can be a difficult pill to swallow can’t it? Especially since the dawning of the Enlightenment in the 18th to 19th century, the mantra became to question everything. To rely on man’s reason and intellect as the most superior knowledge in the universe. How many places do you see reason overtake faith? Can it happen in our own midst? Absolutely! We yet have a sinful nature that desires to be in control. It wants to rely on your own reason and elevate you above God. It is repulsed by the idea of submitting oneself to the wisdom and knowledge of God.

If I were to stand here today and call you all a bunch of children, you probably wouldn’t be too happy with me. Typically, it is said to mean someone is immature. And yet, you are all children. Not like immature 3-year-olds, but children of God. You have been called to faith by the Holy Spirit who creates within you a heart that yearns for this child-like faith that Jesus talks about. Faith that takes God at His Word, that wholly leans on Him for all things, and a faith that leaves you as an heir of eternal life.

Our bodies will get older. We, hopefully, will get a little bit wiser. And our faith will grow in knowledge of God and the Gospel that is found in His Word. But what, Lord willing, will never change is that simple child-like faith that says to God, “You are my God and my Savior from my sin. Thank you.” That right there is saving faith. That is how you and I can enter the Kingdom of God as a little child. It is not by what we do, or how intelligent we become. Rather, by what Jesus has done for you in paying for your sins on the cross.

Paul writes about being a child of God in Romans 8: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Today we are recognizing Christian Education Sunday. For the last 29 years, this congregation has been faithfully served by a teacher who brought the children to the waiting arms of the Lord to be blessed by Him. Daily devotions and prayers and hymns and Christmas programs. The list goes on and on. But the Christian education does not stop there. It doesn’t stop because you or your children graduate from grade school, high school, or even college. No, for each of us, Christian education is to continue on for the rest of our lives. We are to go to our Savior’s loving arms to be blessed by Him, to learn from Him, and to rest in Him. Jesus’ words are an invitation, “Let the children come to Me.”

As a child, you probably had very little responsibility. Your parents took care of the difficult things. As a child of God, you have your heavenly Father to take care of and lead you through the difficult times that you go through even now. Why then, should we neglect this blessed invitation of our Lord to receive from Him the forgiveness of our sins, the salvation of our souls, and the inheritance of the kingdom of God? Lord, keep us as Your children, Amen.

Download Files Bulletin