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VBS Closing and Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 11 – Series B

Text: Luke 18:15-17 

Title: “Let the Children Come to Me”

Date: Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pastor Steve Bocklage

Five-year-old Kayse grew more and more excited about her upcoming first day of kindergarten. Kayse’s 3-year-old sister, Jayme, watched her with great fascination.

However, on the Sunday before Kayse’s first day of kindergarten, she fell and skinned her knee. Tears began to flow, and 3-year-old Jayme, seeing the blood on her big sister’s knee, tried to comfort her. She said, “Don’t worry, Kayse, if you die, you’ll go to heaven.” But that made Kayse cry even more. “I don’t want to go to heaven,” she said. “I want to go to kindergarten!”

Hopefully, after having gone to kindergarten, Kayse did want to go to heaven too!

         In Luke 18, Jesus was teaching His disciples about the kingdom of God because He wanted people to understand how to enter into heaven. Having child-like faith is important, as well as, humbly trusting in the righteousness of another. The only righteousness or good works that God accepts to gain access into heaven is that of Jesus Christ.

Luke then further illustrates God’s love and that kind of humble trust in Jesus by telling us about the Lord blessing the children. Luke writes in verse 15a that the parents were bringing even infants to Jesus so that He might touch them. The Greek word for infants (brephos) may also be translated as “(young) child.” Jesus likely scooped up each precious child into His loving arms and cuddle the child…place His hand on the warm, soft head…lift his eyes up to heaven…and pronounce God’s blessing on them.

However, when the disciples see the parents bringing their children to meet this famous Jesus for His blessing, they rebuke or scold the parents. (Lk 18:15b) Why did the disciples rebuke the parents? Luke doesn’t tell us the reason. At best, they are protecting Jesus and don’t want Him to be bothered by these interruptions. At worst, they see the situation as a waste of time. As the VBS children learned yesterday in Cool Bible Adventures, the disciples were something like BODYGUARDS, who keep people like us away from famous people. The way Jesus loved and healed people, it’s not surprising that crowds followed Him around a lot. So maybe there was a crowd pressing in on the Lord, and the disciples were just trying to protect Him.

         But Jesus will not let anyone keep the children away! He allows the children to come to Him saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (Lk 18:16) We see here the heart of Jesus for all people, including young children. Children by their very nature represent helpless dependence. A baby, and even a young child, is unable to survive its early years on its own. A baby or young child is utterly helpless and utterly dependent upon others for its very survival. Likewise, helpless dependence on God is needed in order to gain entrance into the kingdom of God. As one scholar writes years prior to Rev. Billy Graham’s death: “When Billy Graham enters the kingdom, it will not be because he has personally preached to more people than anyone else in history. It will not be because he has remained impeccable in his finances when so many have failed. It will not be because he has been a faithful husband. It will not be because, despite his fame, he has remained a humble, self-effacing, kind man. When Billy Graham enters the kingdom, it will be because of God’s undeserved love and kindness toward Billy’s helpless dependence on Christ.

         No matter how young or old you are, never forget that JESUS WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! (COOL!) [& giving a thumbs-up] and has time for you. Our sermon text demonstrates His love for children and His desire for children of all ages to come to Him. And as Jesus says in verse 17: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

         Just what is the kingdom of God? It’s the gentle rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people. The kingdom is at times spoken of as a future blessing, (Mt 7:21; 8:11) and at times as a present reality. (Lk 16:16; 17:20; Jn 3:3–5) As a baptized child of God, it should be your heart's desire to be under the gracious rule of God. (Mt 13:44–46) As a baptized child of God, you have forgiveness of sins. Scripture states that in baptism, we put on Christ (Gal.3:27) and that baptism is the powerful work of God. (Col.2:12) Baptism is that which saves and washes away sin. (Acts 22:16, and 1 Peter 3:21) Baptism is where we were united with Christ in His death and resurrection so that “we too may have a new life.” (Rom.6:4)

Also yesterday in Cool Bible Adventures, I had home-made autograph books for each child and for some of the VBS leaders, including myself. As you know, autograph books contain an important person’s or a famous person’s handwritten signature and possibly a personalized note. Even though there were no famous people at VBS, there were some very important people…incredibly important people…just as there are here today. Each one of us is important to Jesus and that’s why each child and leader signed each other’s autograph book. How do you know that you are important to Jesus? Because of God’s promise that JESUS WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! (COOL!) [& giving a thumbs-up] St. John says: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) This awesome love of God is received by those who receive the kingdom of God as little children, demonstrating childlike faith. Renowned English Baptist preacher and author, Charles Spurgeon, once said, “We must not think a child cannot come to God until he is like a man, but a man cannot come until he is like a child. We must grow down until we become like a child.”

So brothers and sisters in Christ…believe and trust that JESUS WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! (COOL!) [& giving a thumbs-up] Thank Him that He does since you’re not able to present any meritorious good works of your own to God because your “righteous deeds are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6) to God. The only righteousness deeds or good works that God accepts to gain access into heaven is that of Jesus Christ. And only child-like faith and humble, helpless dependence upon Jesus and His work on the cross are you able to receive His loving gifts of sins forgiven and eternal life. Amen.

JESUS WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! (COOL!) [& giving a thumbs-up]

 

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