Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jesus and the Children

Intro.: Newspaper columnist Abigail Van Buren has composed a “Parent’s Prayer” in which she stresses the practical side of raising children. Says “Dear Abby”:

              “Oh, heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power.

“Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.

“Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.

“May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect of them the judgment of adults.

“Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions.

“Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests, and the courage to deny them privileges I know will do them harm.

“Make me fair and just and kind. And fit me, Oh Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen.”

I spent much of this week thinking about Jesus' connection with children. In the next few minutes, I want to spend some time looking at three very different connections Jesus had with children. Let's begin with prayer.i


  1. Jesus begins his life as a child Matthew 1:18

    1. Even though Jesus was God, he began life just like every one of us – his mother gave birth.

    2. I felt very fortunate – I was able to be present for the birth of each of my children.

    3. But somehow, Wesley's is the one that stands out

      1. Seven months before he was born, we thought Sandra was having a miscarriage

      2. The night he was born, the nurses told us that they thought Sandra had lost the child

      3. Two hours before he was born, the nurses told us it would not happen soon

      4. And then they panicked. They pushed buttons, alarms went off, and staff went running.

      5. It was an exciting evening – not the birth we expected – not at all.

    4. But then neither was Jesus' birth the one that his mother and father had planned. Yet on the first Christmas morning, God became Man.

    5. We all will have days that do not go the way we planned. But even in the midst of those days, like the day that Jesus was born, God is there.

  2. Jesus welcomed the children into his life Matthew 19:13-15

    1. Jesus had been a child. He had struggled with all the pain that comes with childhood. I expect that there were times that he was excluded from the group as he stayed away from the mischief that was and is a common part of childhood.

    2. But as he grew – he also welcomed children into His life.

(Ill.) Do you realize the ages at which some of the great church leaders came to Christ? Polycarp came to Christ at the age of nine, Matthew Henry was eleven, Jonathan Edwards was seven. Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer, was nine.

E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist missionary statesman was called into mission service at the age of eight. He saw a picture of a big tiger standing besides a small Indian boy. Underneath was the caption, “Who will tell me about Jesus?” E. Stanley Jones said, “I will.”

Phillip Bliss, the author of a seven hymns in our “Celebration” hymnal was twelve years of age when he made he made his decision to follow Jesus.ii

    1. The biggest mistake we can make is to exclude children from our vision. Jesus invitation is clear, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    2. The church is the body of Christ – can we say any less than Jesus did? We must say to the children of our world, “Let the little children come to me...”

  1. It is the child who will understand Matthew 11:25

(Ill.) I work with a great many smart people. They have degrees and experiences that I will never have. When we meet in formal groups, they wear the most colorful gowns. Smart, intelligent, wise.

    1. But these are not the people that God chooses to reveal his truth. These are not the people that are going to understand spiritual truth.

    2. Who does he say will understand God's ways? It is the children.

    3. Let me suggest some truths that come out of this – first, when Jesus is talking about spiritual maturity, he is not talking about a person's physical size; rather, he is talking about their spiritual size.

    4. In fact it seems almost backwards – the spiritually mature person is not the one who knows the most. The spiritually mature person is not the one who understands it all.

    5. The most spiritually mature person is the one who comes to God knowing he does not know it all. The spirtually mature person is often the person who comes empty and confused – seeking to understand, but not understanding.

(Ill.) Financially, we might say it this way. The person who has it all, has nothing; but the person who is poor, the person who has nothing, is extremely rich. But it is not a financial truth – it is a spiritual truth.

    1. One might want to pray like this -

      Lord, teach me to come to you as a child. May I never be so wise, never so learned, that I forget to be a child. Teach me to cry, teach me to want, teach me – I have so much to learn.

Conclusion: May we all leave with this prayer this morning.


iTan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

iiMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 99). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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