Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to Inherit Eternal Life

Mark 10:13-31 is a passage about eternal life. At the beginning of the text, when little children are brought to Jesus and His disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus rebuked the Twelve and said, “Let the children come to me; forbid them not, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Verily (truly), I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Christ’s comment was not intended to make much of the children, but to teach that helpless dependence – like that of a child – is required for citizenship in God's kingdom. The phrase “kingdom of God” is another term for eternal life. Throughout this text the “kingdom of God” phrase is used by Jesus five times (verses 14, 15, 23, 24, 25). The young man used it in Mark 10:17. The fact that they mean the same thing is vividly clear when you consider his question: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and then consider Jesus’ remark when the man sorrowfully trundles off: “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

We’re talking about the same thing, and for anyone to enter into the kingdom of God, for anyone to gain eternal life, you must come helplessly dependent on Jesus Christ. Eternal life will be graciously granted to those who submit themselves to Christ, who humbly come to Jesus in helpless dependence on Him. The kingdom of God is populated by those who have come to Christ as helpless children, forsaking all others and all things to follow Him.

How to obtain eternal life is the underlying framework of this entire section and the necessary helpless dependence of a little child is juxtaposed with the man who in verse 17 runs up to Jesus and asks, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” I’ll write more about that question in a moment, but before I do let’s get a portrait of the questioner in our head. What do we know about this man? We know that…
  • He was eager. Mark says he “came…running.”
  • He was humble. Mark says he “kneeled to him.” Not only that, but remember his question. To ask how to obtain eternal life is to admit that you don’t already have it. He publicly admitted as much.
  • He was respectful. He addressed Jesus as “Good master.” There is nothing of the Pharisaical spirit about this guy.
  • He was sincere. His question was genuine, not one engineered to entrap Jesus as witnessed earlier in chapter ten.
  • He was rich. Evident not only by Christ’s comment in Mark 10:23, but by Mark’s admission that “he had great possessions” v. 22. Luke flatly states, “He was very rich” (Luke 18:23).
  • He was a ruler. That’s what Luke says (Luke 18:18). This may be a reference to leadership of a local synagogue, or that he was simply a respected teacher and leader in the religious community. This is all very impressive, but it is even more so when you consider that…
  • He was young. Matthew described him twice as young (Matthew 19:20, 22)

You may have heard of this guy before. He is often described as the "rich, young, ruler"; even though, as we have seen, he was much more than rich, young, and a ruler. Perhaps we’ve always narrowed him down to those three characteristics because they are the three most appealing to us!

Now let’s consider the question that this eager, humble, respectful, sincere, rich, young ruler asked. “Good master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” There is certainly nothing wrong with that question. Do not take issue with it because he asked: “What shall I do?” The truth is that you must do something to be saved. You must repent and believe. Repentance and faith are necessary for one to gain eternal life. As Jesus said from the beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:14-15). This is not “works” salvation; it’s true, Biblical salvation and it’s all of grace.

Don’t take issue with the question. It was, and is, the right question for someone to ask. But not only did this man ask the right question, he asked the right Person. Too many people chase the right things down the wrong paths. There are so many counterfeit religions and so many devout followers of the same. This is because each one of us is hard-wired with an innate longing for that which is beyond us; that which transcends us. That is part of what makes us human, made in the image of God. Everyone tries to satisfy that longing which is intrinsic to all humanity, and a vast variety of methods are employed: religious, moral, professional, carnal, criminal, etc. In spite of his status, wealth, and youth this man was unfulfilled. His was an anxious, restless, heart. He knew that something was missing, and he understood that something was eternal life.

Because of the scriptures, the Jews had a solid understanding regarding the concept of eternal life. “Life” is the ability to respond to your environment. If you don't like my definition then take a look at a cadaver. See how well it responds to its environment. Life is the ability to respond to the physical environment. Eternal life, therefore, is the ability to respond to the divine environment. It is the ability to respond to God. This is why Paul mentions “heavenly places” four times in the first three chapters of Ephesians. When someone is saved he is seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Paul says. Our citizenship takes on a divine character and we all of a sudden come alive to God and that's unending.

Eternal life, however, is not just a quantity of existence; most importantly it is a quality of existence. It is the idea of being sensitive and responsive to God. Before being saved I was dead in my trespasses and sins, utterly unresponsive to the divine environment. When I became a Christian – when I gained eternal life – I became capable of responding to the divine environment, and I will always be capable of responding to the divine environment.

Please understand that eternal life is not just living forever, because all of us will spend somewhere forever. Eternal life is a quality of existence which allows us to be alive to God; to possess the very Spirit of God. It’s a new birth. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see into the kingdom of God.” Eternal life is unaffected by physical death. Indeed, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Now the rich young ruler knew that he didn't have eternal life, and he knew that he wanted eternal life. He appears to be the easiest evangelistic encounter in the Gospels! How would you respond to one who is so genuinely interested and enthusiastic? You might be tempted to tell this man, “Just believe” or “Say this prayer from your heart” or something along those lines. That isn’t how Jesus responded. We need to learn from the greatest evangelist in the world how to share with others the way to obtain eternal life. Jesus led this earnest young man along a series of soul piercing lessons which were (and are) vital for anyone who would enter into the kingdom of God.

Knowledge of God

The first lesson is a right understanding of God. I didn’t say a complete understanding; which is not even possible, but a right understanding of God. Recall how this fellow addressed Jesus? He called Him “Good master,” and Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Our Lord wasn’t being rude, but He was making a point. The Greek word translated "good" is agathos. It means “of good constitution or nature.” It’s not just outwardly good but inwardly, morally, naturally, and essentially good. Now, there is only one being who is good like that, and that person is God. By asking the young man, “Why are you calling me good?” Jesus was not suggesting He wasn’t God, instead He was directing this guy to think, “Do I believe this Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Most High?” The man was right in calling Jesus good, but Jesus was calling him on this: “Do you realize that I am God?”

No one will inherit eternal life without understanding that Jesus is the God-Man; not half-god and half-man, but God incarnate; in the flesh (John 1:1-4; John 1:18). The essence of eternal life is to know the Father through the Son. As Christ said in His High Priestly prayer, “This is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

Jesus is good, because Jesus is God. This must be understood for one to enter into the kingdom of God.

Knowledge of Yourself

To gain eternal life, not only must you understand who Jesus is, but you must understand who you are. That is the point behind the seemingly contradictory statement of Jesus in Mark 10:19: “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”

I said that Christ’s statement was seemingly contradictory because the truth of the matter is that you may be counted righteous by perfectly keeping the Law. The problem is – and it’s a significant problem – that no one of us is able to perfectly keep the Law. Just read Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, and Romans 5:12.

If all of this is true (and it is) then why does Jesus answer the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life” with “keep the commandments”?! He said that so the young man would realize that he could not, had not, and would never be able to keep the commandments! All evangelism must take the imperfect sinner and place him up against the perfect Law of God so that he can see his sinfulness. Our evangelism cannot be driven by simply and only telling people that Jesus is the answer to all their needs, anxieties, inhibitions, and hang-ups. We must not be guilty of saying, “If you lack peace, hope, joy, or happiness then just try Jesus!”

Eternal life come to those who recognize their sinfulness, Christ’s sinlessness, and who through repentance and faith turn from their wickedness to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Salvation is for people who want to turn away from the things of this life and turn to God for eternal life.

Jesus nailed this young man with the Law so that he could understand himself; understand that he lived in violation and rebellion against a holy God. This man felt a personal need, but he had no sense of remorse over his sin. There was zero indication that he understood his sinfulness was an offense to God. He did not recognize that he was a sinner whose sin separated him from God and made him worthy of eternal punishment. So, our Lord takes the focus off of his felt need and puts it on God. He tries to show this young man that the real problem in his life is not what he doesn't have in his heart but what he does have already there, which needed to be made new. You cannot proclaim the grace of God without first proclaiming the Law of God, because no one understands what grace means unless he understands what law requires. No one understands mercy unless they understand guilt. You cannot preach a gospel of grace unless you've preached a message of law.

The question isn’t “Why did Jesus tell him that?” The question is, “Will the man now understand himself, his sinfulness?”

“Master,” he said in response, dropping the “good” this time, “all these have I observed from my youth up.” Sadly, this guy was not honest with himself about himself. Like Paul before his conversion, he believed his legalistic righteousness to be righteous enough (Romans 7:9; Philippians 3:9).

Knowledge of the Cost

The Lord is teaching this man, and us, vital lessons concerning who may enter into the kingdom of God. If you would enter the kingdom, inherit eternal life, you must have knowledge of God. Specifically that God is intrinsically and only good; perfect and sinless altogether, and that Jesus is God. Second, you must know yourself. Particularly that you are none of those things which God is. You must understand that you are a sinner who cannot perfectly keep the Law and meet God’s holy standard. Understanding this drives you to the fact that you need a Savior. Jesus is that Savior.

Admittedly, these lessons may, at first, seem a little unorthodox. Jesus’ statements: “Why do you call me good?” and “Keep the commandments” throw us off guard. The next statement of Jesus doesn’t disappoint either, but before we look at the Lord’s next comment, take a moment to picture Mark’s commentary. We read in Mark 10:21, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him.”

This is another indication of the man’s sincerity. He was no hypocrite, and Jesus loved him. Jesus was about to die for the sins of this man. Our Lord is not willing that any should perish. Whosoever will may come to Jesus and gain eternal life, but whosoever comes may not come on his own terms. All may come, but all who do will come on Christ’s terms.

Jesus taught this sincere young man one final lesson – knowledge of the cost – when He answered the question “What lack I yet” (Matthew 19:20) by saying: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

This fellow’s life was centered on himself rather than the kingdom. Jesus understood this, and that is why he told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. It is not because philanthropy is the key to the kingdom. Jesus Christ is the key, however, and this eager, humble, respectful, sincere, rich, young ruler loved his wealth more than the Messiah. He may not have looked like an idolater, but he was. The surgical comment from Jesus revealed a false god in his life. Money was his idol, and he was unwilling to forsake his false god for the one true God.

Which is why we went away sad. He didn't have to go away sad, but he did. He lacked the helpless, childlike faith necessary for entrance into the kingdom. He would not repent of his sin. He wouldn’t even admit them, and he was unwilling to forsake all things and all others for Christ. Eternal life is what he wanted, not the cross.

He failed every lesson. Not understanding that he was in the presence of the Most High. He showed no remorse over his sin; in fact he deluded himself, and others, into thinking that “all these I have kept from my youth.” He refused to turn from his sin and follow the Savior. He loved his little god too much to forsake it and follow the real God.

(Do you have to give everything away to be a Christian? No, no you don't. The Lord didn't say that to other folks. But you must be willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do. That will be different for each person and situation, but the Lord put the finger on this man’s issue. What Jesus said in Luke 14:33 applies here.)

Do you know why this man went away sorrowful? For this reason, he understood the cost of eternal life, but he wasn’t willing to pay the price. He made the most crucial decision of his life based on the here and now rather than the hereafter. He must have forgotten the story of Moses as recounted in Hebrews 11:26.

He vividly proves that if we have everything but Christ then we have nothing. The real tragedy of the story is that he understood this lesson but trudged on home just the same.

Jesus had one more jaw-dropping statement to make, because He had one more lesson to teach. As the young man walked away sorrowful because of his great possessions, Jesus looked round about, and said to His disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! …Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Once again the Twelve were standing slack jawed and staring bug-eyed at their Lord. Had they heard what He just said?!

Knowledge of God’s Grace

How easy it for a camel to be threaded through the eye of a needle? This is not a trick question. It’s impossible for a camel to go through a needle’s eye. I said, “Impossible.” This begs the obvious question then, and the Twelve asked it, “Who then can be saved?”

If it’s impossible for an eager, humble, respectful, sincere, rich, young ruler to be saved then is it possible for anyone to be saved?! Does this mean redemption is only available to the poor? Is salvation even possible?

The answer is “No.” This is where the fourth and final lesson is taught. Salvation is impossible – for man. Salvation is only possible by God’s grace. What man cannot do only God is able to do, and praise His holy name that He is willing to do it! To enter the kingdom, to inherit eternal life you must have knowledge of God and yourself. You must count the cost, and you must know that it is all and only by God’s grace. Eternal life not only has God as its goal, it has God as its source and beginning. Were it not for grace there would be no salvation. “With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Peter had watched and heard this entire encounter. We watched the man slip away. He was surely dumbstruck by Jesus’ comment. But only for a moment! More than any of the other Twelve Peter had the amazing ability to regain his speaking faculties at a quick pace. He blurted out, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

Jesus’ response is a magnificent bit of encouragement. Following Jesus involves sacrifice, but Jesus promised that whatever is sacrificed for His sake and for the spread of the Gospel will be given back hundredfold; not only in this time, but in the age to come. This is a staggering promise, and not one that should be seen as a get rich quick scheme. Consider this: Jesus Christ is never a debtor. He always supplies our every need. Even when following Christ results in the loss of family, wealth, or health, He will abundantly supply the needs of His people.

The call goes out for all who will hear to forsake all that you have, take up the cross, and follow Christ. You do that and you will share in Christ’s triumph, receive far more than you have lost or will ever lose, and you’ll inherit eternal life! Far more is gained than is lost.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jesus & Children

Jesus has just finished teaching about the very serious matter of marriage and divorce (Mark 10:1-12). It is not surprising that from the teaching on the intended permanency of marriage, the discussion naturally turned to children (Mark 10:13-16). The statement “and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:15) is literally fulfilled when a married couple come together to produce a child, and their children are to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In this particular instance, as soon as Jesus had finished teaching, a group of parents bring their little children to Him. It was customary for Jewish parents to bring their children to the rabbis for a blessing. (Similar to what we do today when we dedicate a child and parents to the Lord.) This is why they brought their little ones to Jesus. Some were infants in arms (Luke 18:15), while others were young children able to walk. Jesus welcomed them all.

The beautiful picture of children being brought before to Jesus is marred by the Twelve’s reaction. They severely rebuked the parents. Apparently, they felt that this was a waste of the Master’s time and energy. This led to the disciples being severely rebuked by Jesus for their attitude. He was clear. “Let the children come to me. Do not forbid them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

The disciples had a hard time being in tune with Jesus. Before He fed the 5,000 they told Jesus “send them away.” He said, “You feed them.” When He warned them, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod”, they thought He was talking about no bread on the boat galley. Here parents are bringing their children to Jesus and the disciples are trying to run them off, and Jesus says “Don’t you dare!”

Before you shake your head in derision at the disciples, it would do you well to bear in mind that we are not always in step with Jesus. Don’t mock these men as if you wouldn’t have been right there messing up just as they did. Instead, learn from this humbling event in their lives, and pray for the heart of Jesus Christ.

And, let’s face it; children are not always cute and cuddly. There are quite often noisy in church; they require a lot of special attention; and they do not contribute to the financial burden of the church (although they are never too young to learn to give!). While they may not be easy to keep still and are always expensive, children are not a curse to be endured; they are a blessing to be enjoyed! Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Every family is blessed when they have children, and the same is true of every church.

This passage has something to say about children, and by extension, the Savior’s kingdom. Let’s walk through these important but often neglected verses. We’ll learn how Jesus related to children, and observe some lessons about parents, children and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Lesson about Service

This passage clearly reveals certain responsibilities that both the parent and the church have toward our children. Fulfilling these responsibilities is a form of service to our children. Let me show you how we serve them.

We serve our children by evangelizing them. This passage nowhere implies that Jesus was saving these children. He was merely praying for them and pronouncing a blessing on their young lives. This scene teaches us that these parents cared enough about the spiritual condition of their children to bring them to Jesus so that they might be blessed through His praying and His touch.

Bible believers are challenged from the OT (Deuteronomy 6:1-8) and the NT (Ephesians 6:4) to share the things of God with their children. Parents should do everything in their power to ensure that their children are exposed to the Gospel. That means bringing them to church on a consistent basis. It means praying for them and with them. It means opening the Bible with them at home, and being open about your own faith. It means being consistent in your walk with Christ; teaching them that nothing in this world is more important than the Lord and His work. Yes, the Gospel should be preached from this pulpit, but the primary responsibility for evangelizing the children of this congregation rests on the shoulders of Mom and Dad. Studies have consistently shown that the majority of people come to faith while they are under the age of 18.

We serve our children by educating them. By bringing their children to Jesus, these parents were telling their children that they saw something special in Him. Like those ancient parents, believers in our day have the responsibility of modeling our faith in Jesus so that the younger generation can see that He is worth knowing. If I have a “faith” which doesn’t result in a changed life, a life marked by following Christ, my children will pick up on that. I can talk about my faith, but if I do not live my faith, my children won’t see Christ, they’ll see hypocrisy. Children are quick to spot a phony!

We are responsible for educating our children about the things of God. In Ephesians 6:4, the word “nurture” refers to “the whole training and education” of a child. It is not the public school teacher’s responsibility to teach our children morality, let alone bring our children to Jesus. It is our duty to bring them face to face with a saving Lord. If we make much of Jesus in front of them, they will be far more likely to come to Him at an early age and remain faithful to Him as they mature.

We serve our Children by encouraging them. When these parents came to Jesus with their children they were encouraging them to approach Him as well. Christian parents are told in Ephesians 6:4 to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The word admonition has the idea of encouragement. We ought to encourage our children to seek the things of God. Teach them to pray at an early age. Make the Bible a big part of their daily life. Pray with them. Bring them to church, and involve them in church ministry. Expose them to everything of a godly nature that is available.

One of the best things a mature believer can do for children is for them to be in love with Jesus Christ. When mature adults love Jesus with a sincere devotion, it encourages children to love Him too!

There is no greater blessing than for a child to be saved and for them to live their whole lives for Jesus. D. L. Moody once returned from a meeting and reported two and a half conversions. “Two adults and a child, I suppose?” asked his host. “No,” said Moody, “two children and an adult. The children gave their whole lives. The adult had only half of his left to give.”

A Lesson about Salvation

While this text certainly highlights every adult’s responsibility to serve our children by helping them form a spiritual foundation, it also speaks about the matter of salvation.

The fact that children are invited to come to the Savior implies that children need a Savior. Now, most folks don’t like to hear this, but children are sinners too (Psalm 58:3; Psalm 51:5; Job 15:14; Proverbs 22:15; Isaiah 48:8; Ephesians 2:3). While children may possess a kind of innocence, they still stand in need of salvation.

That is why parents and other concerned adults must do all they can to bring children face to face with the claims of the Gospel. And I do mean the entire Gospel. We must not shield children from the truth of the cross. Half of a Gospel is of no value. It is not our duty to save them, but it is our duty to expose them to the Word of God. When children hear the Gospel preached, taught and lived out, they are far more likely to come to Jesus at an early age, Romans 10:17. Here is what Paul told Timothy about exposing children to the Word of God, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 3:15.

Whenever a discussion about childhood salvation comes up, someone always mentions the age of accountability. For many, the magic age of accountability has been twelve. When a child reached the age of twelve, it was time for them to get saved, join the church and be baptized.

It surprises some people when they find out that the Bible does not mention a specific age of accountability. A child becomes accountable for his or her sins when they come to a place where they can understand the difference between right and wrong; to understand that they are sinners (Isaiah 7:16).

The term age of decision is a better term than age of accountability. When a person reaches a level of mental understanding regarding the nature of sin and its consequences and are able to make a decision for or against Jesus Christ, they have reached the age of decision.

So, when is that age? Well, it is different for every child. The age of some may be as young as 6. Others may not come to a realization of their condition until their teens. Some people, such as those with severe mental handicaps, may never come to that place.

You know you at that age when you reach a place in your life where you understand that you are a sinner; that your sin offends a holy God, and those who die in their sins will go to Hell; and where you understand that Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead to save you; if you understand that then you need to come to Jesus and be saved.

Wise parents will consistently tell and model the Gospel for their children, but they will not attempt to force a “decision” from them. It is not uncommon for young kids to ask their parents about salvation. That is a good thing! You should never put them off, but you should definitely take the time to ask them some pointed questions like:

  • What does it mean to be saved?
  • Why do you feel that you need to be saved?
  • Can you explain to me how a person gets saved?
  • Can you explain to me what sin is?
  • Who is Jesus? Why did He have to die? Is He still dead?

There are other questions, but you get the idea. If they do not understand then keep praying for them and talking to them about Jesus. They will come back when they are ready. It may be that your child is interested but not quite ready. Praise God! It probably won’t be long! When they are ready to receive Jesus, be careful that you point them to Him and allow them to come to Him by faith. In other words, do not put words into their mouths.

I’ll pause here for a moment to ask and answer a serious question. What about children who die before they reach the “age of decision”? What happens to them? The short answer is instant heaven. I do not say that sentimentally but convictionally. The conviction is Biblically based. When David lost an infant son he was convinced that his son had gone to be with the Lord, 2 Sam. 12:23. Children and others who cannot choose for themselves are not saved, but they are safe. When they die in that safe condition they are taken to Heaven! Parents who have lost children to death, miscarriage, or still birth should never fear because their little ones are in Heaven with the Lord Jesus today. What a gracious Savior we serve!

This whole matter of children coming to Jesus was used by our Lord to illustrate the way all believers must come to Him. All who come to Him must come as a little child. Children are trusting, humble and dependent. They are so trusting, that they have to be warned not to talk to strangers. They are so humble, that they will readily accept what they are told. They are so dependent, that they simply rest in the ability and willingness of those around them to meet their needs. They don’t worry over food, clothing or shelter. They don’t worry about who will pay the bills. Children don’t doubt that their family members love them. Children simply accept profound things by faith. They don’t look beyond the obvious. They just believe!

Those are the requirements for a person to come to Jesus. For a person to be saved, regardless of their age, they must humble themselves before God. They must lay down their pride, and not trust in their achievements but in the Lord. They must humble themselves by acknowledging their sins before God. They must be willing to admit that their works and religious activity can never save them. They must come to the place where they, like a little child, simply look to Jesus in pure faith, trusting that He will do everything He has promised to do.

The next passage (Mark 10:17-22) will contrast this image of childlike faith. The 'Rich Young Ruler' came to Jesus but he refused to turn loose of his pride, his money, or his self-righteousness. He left with all his possessions but without Jesus!
A person must look to Jesus by faith alone, trusting Him and His finished work on the cross for their soul’s salvation. This requires the childlike qualities of trust, humility and dependence. This is the only way anyone ever receives salvation.

A Lesson about the Savior

This passage not only speaks about service and salvation, it also has something to say about the Savior. Watching Jesus minister to these children, we get a glimpse of aspects of our Lord’s personality.

We see the Savior’s heart. The disciples thought Jesus was too busy for a bunch of children. When the Bible says, “brought unto Him”, it has the idea of a long line of children being brought to Jesus. Parents from all over the area had brought their children to Jesus so that He could pray for them and pronounce a blessing over them. When the disciples rebuked the parents Jesus was “much displeased”. He was very angry with the disciples for trying to prevent children from coming to Him. Children hold a special place in our Lord’s heart!

Jesus always defends the defenseless! In Roman society children were often treated with contempt and viewed as property. In ancient Rome, fathers held absolute power over their children. This power was called “Patria Potestas”. A father could condemn a child to die simply by commanding it be done. It was not uncommon for fathers to kill newborns who had some “defect” or who had the audacity to be the wrong sex.

Don’t for a moment think that is the stuff of ancient history. Those abominable practices still occur to this day.

Jesus’ words and actions elevated the status of children to a place of equal importance with all human life, and He demonstrated what we already knew about the Lord from the OT. Children hold a special place in His heart. This scene reveals a lot about Jesus. Children cannot serve Him like those who are older, but they can and should serve Him. He loves them and reaches out to them in grace. They cannot contribute as much money as those who are older, but they can and should contribute.
This reminds us that God is not interested in what we can do, what we can give or how old we are. He simply invited people to come to Him on the basis of pure grace! Jesus loves lost sinners and He invites them all to come (Revelation 22:17; Matthew 11:28; John 3:16).

Finally, we see the Savior’s hands. This verse says “and He laid His hands on them”. He took the time to touch and bless each child individually. Those that came before Him, no matter how young or how insignificant they appeared, were cared for and attended to by Jesus.

Never think for an instant that Jesus doesn’t care about you. He loves you and will not turn away those who come to Him in humble faith. No matter where the path of life has taken you; no matter what you may have done; no matter how insignificant you may feel; Jesus Christ will save you and change your life if you will come to Him. He cares about your condition and He will take the time to touch your life if you will only come to Him by faith.

Regardless of whether you are saved or lost, young or old, Jesus cares about you. While this message has been about children, it isn’t only for children. If you have never been saved, regardless of your age, you need to come to Jesus today. He died on the cross to save you if you are lost.

If your life has gotten complicated by living in an adult world and you need some help from God today, you can get it. If sin has crept into your relationship with Jesus and is hindering your walk with Him, He can forgive that today. If you will come to Him, you will find that His grace will be sufficient for you. If there are needs in your life, you can come to Him like those little children did two thousand years ago and you can find the help you need!