devotion 4-1-15

I’m not so good at April Fools jokes, so I’ll just say, have a fun day!

Luke 18:15 – 17

15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’

The last parable ended, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Who is more humble than an infant? The infant does not stand before Jesus, or God, and brag about how it is better than others, as the Pharisee did, nor can it claim a lifetime of righteous deeds. The infant relies totally on grace. And so, while it may seem that there is a change of topic between the parable and the blessing of the children, there is really a continuation of a theme. We come into the kingdom by being open to it, by humbly seeking God’s will in our lives.

The disciples had surely seen Jesus with children before, why do they turn them away here, and scold the parents for bringing them to him? There is much conflict; Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem – tension is building. Perhaps they think Jesus is too busy to be bothered with children and infants at that time. Perhaps they resent their time with Jesus being interrupted for this unnecessary blessing. Perhaps they buy into their culture’s devaluation of children as being of no importance.

It is hard for us today to understand, for we hold great value in our children; but in biblical days, at least half the children died before reaching adult-hood. Children who were likely to die were not greatly valued in most cultures of the time. And yet, it is interesting to note throughout the Bible that children were often greatly valued, individually, as a woman who had not been able to have a child would have been blessed with a child or an ill child would be healed. Jesus often healed children, even from a distance, as he had with Jairus’ daughter.

Whatever their reason, the impatient disciples tried to send the children and their parents away. But Jesus said, no, let the little children come to me – for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

What does Jesus mean? He is certainly not saying that only by being baptized as a child can one enter the kingdom! (Although this passage is certainly support for the baptism of infants.) He is not saying that one must come with a mind like a child – being trusting and loving, for often that is not the characteristic of a young child at all. The two-year-old is likely to be the most selfish person on earth, as she stamps her foot and says, no! What the children, especially the infants brought to Jesus, are – is dependent. They are dependent on their parents; they need Jesus’ blessing. We enter the kingdom not of our own righteousness, not as the Pharisee, but dependent on God’s grace, like the tax-collector in the temple, and like the little child in this story.

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