Forbid them Not!
The story of Jesus blessing the infant children and toddlers is recorded in Luke 18:15-17, Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 10:13-16. In that story Jesus extends the well known invitation, “Suffer (permit) the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God.”
Practically, this story challenges us to reach boys and girl for Christ while they are young and their heart’s are tender and open to God’s Word.
Doctrinally, this passage is foundational to our understanding of by whom the Kingdom of God is received.
Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus is constantly teaching what it means to be involved in the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven. These two terms are used interchangeably.
Take for example, Luke chapters 17 and 18. Both deal with the Kingdom of God.
In Luke 17:20-21 we learned of the internal nature of God’s spiritual Kingdom in our hearts.
In Luke 17:22-37 we learned of the sudden catastrophic nature of the inauguration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom when He returns in glory to bring the reign of Anti-christ to a close and to usher in His own Kingdom.
In Luke 18:1-8 we learn of the avenging of God’s elect as His Kingdom gets underway.
In Luke 18:9-14 we read of the Pharisee and the Publican who both went into the Temple to pray. The Publican went home in Christ’s Kingdom, justified by faith; whereas the self-righteous Pharisee went home in his pride and self-righteousness, just the way he came into the Temple; still outside the Kingdom.
Now in our text in Luke 18:15-17 Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God is offered to those who come to Him as little children. In John 3 Jesus explains to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that he must be born again to enter His spiritual Kingdom. He speaks of a spiritual rebirth as the only way to enter His Kingdom. Those who enter the Kingdom, do so as babes in Christ; even if they come in with PhD’s. It’s one thing to know facts about the Bible It’s another thing to know Christ personally and intimately through faith in His Word and through the indwelling Holy Spirit who lives in every believer. The more time we spend in His Word, the sooner we attain spiritual maturity. Those who are in His spiritual Kingdom now will one day reign with Him in His Millennial Kingdom.
No one better illustrates that only the lowly enter the Kingdom than a little child. A child is humble and teachable; not proud nor sophisticated.
With that background, let’s take a look at the people in this story.
THE CONCERNED PARENTS
First, note the parents of the little children. Just as good parents want God’s blessing on their children today, so these parents brought their infants and toddlers to Jesus for His blessing. They were concerned for their children’s future and God’s best for them, just as we are today.
Christian parents today can provide for God’s blessing on their children, by setting a good example for them and by being faithful in a church where they can hear the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
Furthermore, they can present their small children in a dedication service, offering them to the Lord. A dedication service does not save our children, but it provides an opportunity for us to learn our responsibilities as Christian parents and it helps us in our home and church to provide the best environment for our children to grow up learning to know Jesus.
THE IMPATIENT DISCIPLES
Jesus’ disciples became impatient with these parents. Jesus had an important ministry to adults. They saw these parents with their children as unnecessary and unimportant interruptions to Jesus’ ministry.
JESUS REPRIMANDS HIS DISCIPLES
Mark 10:14 describes Jesus as angry with His disciples for attempting to keep the children from Him. He invites the parents to bring their children to Him so that He can bless them.
WHAT DOCTRINAL TRUTH CONCERNING THE KINGDOM DO WE LEARN?
In blessing these babies and toddlers, He is blessing non believers. They do not know God’s Law, nor are they aware of good and evil. They are too young to understand and believe truths about salvation or of the Kingdom. They had not arrived at the age of accountability. Nothing is said of them being Covenant children, or children of Abraham. Nothing is said of circumcision or baptism.
In fact, these babies, as all human babies, are born with a sinful nature. We inherited this sinful nature from our first father, Adam. Psalm 51:5 teaches. Psalm 58:3 teaches us that we are sinners from the womb and we go astray from birth. Ecclesiastes 7:20 declares “there is not a just man upon earth.” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
We are born of the flesh, Jesus said in John 3:6; and we inherited a sinful nature from our first father, Adam, Paul explains in Romans 5:12.
Yet under the special grace of God, little children have not attained the age of accountability when they could receive or reject Christ as Saviour, Jesus teaches that His Kingdom consists of child-like people such as these.
When David’s first born son to Bathsheba died in infancy, he went to Heaven. David said with assurance in II Samuel 12:15-24 that although his baby could not return to him, he would one day go to see his baby in Heaven.
EARLY CHILDHOOD, PRIMETIME TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN
Our child’s heart and conscience is tender. It is not difficult for him to understand that he is a sinner and that Jesus died to pay the penalty for his sins. Children are open and receptive to the Gospel. Proverbs 22:6 commands us as parents to train up our children in the way they should go. Teach them from the Bible and show them by our example what it means to be a Christian. God’s promise is that if we will teach and show them the way, they will receive Christ and not depart from Him. It worked for our three children and it is working for our eleven grandchildren and it will work for you.
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