Back in February I did a sermon on Building Kingdom Families. As we head into Part 2 of this mini-series this weekend, let me remind you about a few things I said back in February. I will do this over two blog posts.
Our passage is…
Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV)
Let the Children Come to Me
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
There are two principles that I want to grab from this moment with Jesus.
The first is…
#1 We are to bring our children to Jesus
Jesus says pretty plain and clear… “Let the little children come to me…”
Children are to have unhindered access to the presence of Jesus.
In this situation, the disciples tried to back the people up and prevent them from bringing the children to Jesus.
You can see two actions by the two groups of adults that make an appearance in this meeting with Jesus. The first group of adults comes from when we are told that the children were brought to Jesus. Who brought them? Well, likely it was parents or family members that desired their kids to have an encounter with Jesus. They wanted him to lay his hands on them and pray for their kids.
It says in Luke 18 that they were even bringing children as young as infants. Someone is carrying these kids. Regardless of if it is parents, grandparents, older siblings or someone, there is a desire by this group of adults to connect their children with Jesus.
And Jesus wholeheartedly approved this desire to bring the children to him.
I don’t think this principle of bringing children to Jesus has changed from this moment we find in Matthew 19 to our present day.
If you are a Jesus follower, meaning you have declared that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of your life, then you are part of the Kingdom of God which Jesus talks lots about in the gospel of Matthew.
So it stands to reason that if you are in the Kingdom of God then you are to be building Kingdom families, you are to be raising Kingdom kids… you are to be bringing your kids to the presence of Jesus.
Let’s break down how this principle of bringing kids to Jesus can play out.
Where does the responsibility lie in bringing children to experience Jesus?
Well I don’t think this is actually to complicated. I think God designed the family to be the major vehicle to help kids understand who Jesus is, what the Kingdom of God is about and how we live our lives for it.
We are to be kingdom building families. And I when I say family in this context, I am describing moms and dads, siblings, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles. The immediate family and the close surrounding family. This is the team that has the primary charge with bringing kids up as kingdom kids. Kids that are brought to Jesus and brought up to know Jesus.
But I believe that God has also built into this immediate family a larger family that we all get to be part of and participate in. And that family is the church.
The church is also charged with the responsibility and part of the team to help children be brought to Jesus.
When I describe the church family and the responsibility of the church family it makes sense why we do what we do for kids. At Heartland we love kids and we strongly and I would say urgently desire them to know Jesus in a deep and intimate way. We are to partner with families to help kids know Jesus.
Around Heartland you will see all kinds of opportunities for kids to connect with Jesus:
- Weekend service kids classes
- During our weekend services, we have classes for kids Nursery through Grade 6
- Small Groups for upper elementary
- Age specific events
- We also have family specific events where families can do stuff together
- We just had one of our family events a couple weeks ago. 25 plus families or 100 people came out and we saw families connecting together and helping their kids learn how to connect with Jesus.
- We also have weekends where the kids get to lead the adults
- I really don’t know to many churches where the kids get an opportunity to lead in this way and feel part of the bigger body of the church.
- We also have for our kids, when they get old enough, a youth program that they can transition in to.
- We don’t stop at Grade 6. We want to see great transitions from infants to preschoolers to elementary kids to youth to teenagers.
These are critical formative years where the larger church family needs to partner with the immediate families to help kids connect with Jesus.
A moment ago, I mentioned that in Matthew 19 there were two groups of adults represented. We covered the first group, which was the group bringing the kids to Jesus. The second group of adults was the disciples. When the children first started to be brought to Jesus, they rebuked the people. Rebuked is a fancy way of saying that they scolded the people.
The disciples were always with Jesus and as he was teaching and talking with people, if anything, this passage tells us that they didn’t always know what to do and so sometimes they defaulted to security or Jesus’ secret service.
As the children were being brought to Jesus, from their perspective Jesus didn’t have time to see these kids. What influence, what purpose would it serve to waste time on kids? Or babies for that matter?
Were they right in doing this?
I can imagine this moment where time paused with the disappointment of parents hoping to have Jesus… Jesus this man of hope that was inspiring people everywhere he went, who was changing the very culture of cities and towns, who was himself to meet the fulfillment of prophecies long waited for… This man, that called himself the Son of God, the promised Savior… They just wanted him to pray for their kids.
And we aren’t told how many kids are being brought to him… Maybe it was just a handful or maybe it was a line down the road…
But all of you who have a connection to a kid in some way, you know the depth of care you have for that kid and you know the depth of disappointment that you can feel, when something doesn’t go right for that kid, for your kid.
That is the moment when the disciple rejected the people bringing their kids to Jesus.
But we are told in Mark 10… that when Jesus saw what his disciples were doing, he was indignant. Now we can immediately jump to the conclusion that this might mean Jesus got outwardly angry, but the Greek meaning behind this word indignant reflects a meaning much closer to grief.
When Jesus saw what his disciples were doing, he was so disappointed that he was deeply grieved by their actions. In that moment, Jesus… and the people bringing their kids were immediately connected in a very similar grief founded in disappointment.
Never forget that we worship a Savior God who has experienced life in human form and knows the depth and range of emotion and pain that we experience in this life.
And what was his response in that moment?
In the midst of the people’s disappointment, he broke through into that moment and said, let the children come to me.
And then he said… (see you Thursday)