HYMN Jesus, Friend of little children
1 Jesus, friend of little children,
be a friend to me;
take my hand and ever keep me
close to thee.
2 Teach me how to grow in goodness,
daily as I grow;
thou hast been a child and surely
thou dost know.
3 Step by step, O lead me onward,
upward into youth!
Wiser, stronger still becoming
in thy truth.
4 Never leave me, nor forsake me,
ever be my friend;
for I need thee from life’s dawning
to its end.
Walter J Mathams (1853-1931)
READING Matthew 19:13-15
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
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.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
SERMON DO NOT HINDER THE CHILDREN
As part of my routine as school chaplain, I visit Drummond School regularly to take religious services. You cannot help but love these special children. Such was the situation I imagined on the banks of the Jordan in our reading today. Children instinctively – with no inhibitions coming to be close to Jesus. And if that be the case, then it certainly is a wonderful picture of the Man of Love stretching out His Hand to bless the youths of His day.
Maybe we could learn something from the enthusiasm of the young ! If it was the case that they came running to be in the company of Jesus, then it speaks to us of our relationship with the Living Saviour. Do we enthusiastically run to be in His company?
But maybe these little ones were in fact INFANTS…
Now, the disciples must have imagined that either Jesus was too busy for such rude interruptions – or that the parents were wanting some superstitious blessing from the carpenter’s son.
But Jesus was to teach them a lesson which they would not forget about children. Indeed it is a lesson which the Christian Church learned also – about the importance of the young – and how dear they are to God’s heart.
Sadly, that lesson has all but been forgotten by many in the Church today. Some people hate family services — they say they can’t concentrate in Church with all the noise. Well, did JESUS complain about the noise of the children? NO – He took time for them and placed His hands on them and blessed them! Is that a word to YOUR heart this evening – then take heed!
If the parents were bringing the little ones to Him out of superstition, then Jesus would have been the first to tell them off. But the fact that Jesus welcomes them is indicative of the fact that the parents genuinely wanted the blessing of God upon their children.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for those children when they grew up – when their parents would relate to them how Jesus had placed His hand upon them while just babes and blessed them? That would have made anyone very happy.
And yet what are we doing in our baptismal services here ? When Christian parents bring their children to be baptised, they are looking not for some superstitious magical rite – they are giving their children to Jesus to have Jesus bless them. When we tell our children that Jesus placed His Hand upon them when they were but babies, our children should be thrilled likewise.
Sadly, so many people take vows they do not mean. Their children grow up with no living example of walking daily with Jesus – and they reject what was done to them in their infancy! Many of them, when they DO become Christians then want to be baptised all over again – and you can understand that.
We do not do that in the Church of Scotland – baptise for a second time. But we encourage the young Christians to look back and see that GOD knew what He was doing – even thought their parents didn’t.
The final thing we should notice about this lovely little incident is that it comes immediately after Jesus teaching on marriage and divorce. This all enforces the very high view of marriage and family life which Jesus held. If marriage is sacred – so too are children – God’s gifts to us. We should be thankful for His gifts and continually give our children – no matter how old they may be – back to God in prayer.
Be sure there are problems in child rearing, just as there can be in marriage, but we know to whom we should turn for all the help we need. Let us learn to turn to HIM first – and quickly – to Jesus.
Hymn Jesus loves the little children
1 In the lands beyond the sea
Countless million children be
Who have never heard the gospel story told;
Little ones for whom the Christ
Died, and bo’t them with a price,
Waiting to be gathered in the Savior’s fold.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children are His care;
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight;
Jesus loves the little children ev’rywhere.
2 Ev’rywhere we hear their cry,
“Come and save us or we die;”
Who will haste to these the blessed news to tell?
They are precious to the King;
Let us go these lambs to bring
To the gracious arms of Him we love so well. [Chorus]
3 From the east and from the west
See them thronging to be blest,
Precious jewels to adorn His diadem.
If we thus obey the Lord
We shall reap a sure reward
When He comes again to gather us and them. [Chorus]