APPROACH GOD IN CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCE
This is a good Father’s Day Message for 2020. Here we see the attitude and posture of the disciples at odds with the heart of their Master. The disciples still seemed to associate some concept of worthiness or significance to those people whom the Lord would want to bless. In contrast to those who would plead for worthiness based on their Jewish privilege or their own works or merit, Jesus pointed to the helpless condition of little children who have nothing to offer and seem insignificant. But unless someone approaches God on that basis of helplessness and complete dependency they cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Deffinbaugh: The setting of our text, the subject at hand, is that of the character of those who will enter into the kingdom of God, when it is established on the earth. To put the matter in more contemporary terms, the issue at hand is, “Who are those who will go to heaven?” I think you will agree with me that there is no more important question in all the world. It was such an important matter that Jesus could urge the rich young ruler to give up all of his wealth to be added to that group who would enter into eternal life. The issues of our text are eternal ones. Nothing matters more in this life, or the next, than the things which Jesus is speaking of here. Let us listen well to His words, for they are words of life.
I. (:15) PROTECTIONIST ATTITUDE OF THE DISCIPLES
Thinking they were protecting Jesus from this intrusive interruption
A. Did Not Want Jesus Bothered
“And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He might touch them,”
Associated with the act of laying on of hands and praying for their blessing
William Barclay: It was the custom for mothers to bring their children to some distinguished Rabbi on their first birthday that he might bless them. That is what the mothers wanted for their children from Jesus….It is one of the loveliest things in all the gospel story that Jesus had time for the children even when He was on the way to Jerusalem to die!
Lenski: Mark adds that he then took them into his arms, laid his hands on them, and went on fervently blessing them.
– Symbols of dependence and helplessness – they have nothing to offer
– Symbols of insignificance
– Symbols of humility
– Symbols of open receptivity
– Not absorbed with a sense of their own importance or accomplishments
Cf. the old Art Linkletter show – “Kids Say the Darndest Things” – refreshing honesty of expression; no hypocrisy
B. Denied Access to Jesus
“but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.”
– Don’t bother Jesus; He is too busy
– Jesus has more important people to help – people who are more worthy of His attention
II. (:16) PROTECTIONIST ATTITUDE OF JESUS
Longs to gather children under His protective wings
A. Not Bothered by Children
“But Jesus called for them, saying,
‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them,’”
B. Only Ones Like Little Children Have Access to the Kingdom
“for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Deffinbaugh: I believe that Jesus was using the coming of the children to Him to be blessed as an illustration of the way in which all men must come to Him for a blessing. That is, if we would come to Jesus for a blessing, we must not come in our own strength (the babes were carried), we must not come through our own understanding, our own wisdom, our own good works. We can only come to Christ in our helpless state, looking to Him and to His grace alone. We must come out of our weakness and helpless state, not out of our own righteousness. Here is the difference between all of those who came to Jesus and were “saved” and those who were “healthy” and thus never were saved, because they were too healthy, too good, too pious to need grace. The thing which commends children to Christ is their helplessness, not their goodness. And this is precisely what must characterize every person who comes into the kingdom—they come as those who are helpless and undeserving, entering into His blessings because of God’s goodness and grace, not due to their own merits. Here is the child-like quality which must characterize all who would enter into His kingdom.
MacArthur: No one better illustrates the reality that only the lowly who have achieved nothing of merit enter the kingdom than infants. No one has achieved less morally and religiously than them; no one has less knowledge of or obedience to the law, or less devotion to God. Thus, infants perfectly illustrate the principle that God saves sinners apart from their achievements. While the proud and self-righteous are excluded from the kingdom, infants—and those who approach the kingdom like infants—are included. . .
A little child is simple, dependent, helpless, unaffected, unpretentious, unambitious. Children are not sinless or naturally unselfish, and they display their fallen nature from the earliest age. But they are nevertheless naive and unassuming, trusting of others and without ambition for grandeur and greatness.
III. (:17) PRINCIPLE = APPROACH GOD IN CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCE
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God
like a child shall not enter it at all.”
Morris: Children show us the way in their utter dependence, their unworldliness, their openness, the completeness of their trust.