Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel, which was read a few minutes ago.
If President Trump came to Lake View, who do you think would be invited to meet him? I suppose the mayor and the city council. Me, of course. Lake View isn’t that big, so I’m guessing all of the adults would get invited. The children and babies though might not be invited. What would happen if President Trump was trying to give a talk on the state of the nation and babies were crying and toddlers were talking and banging their toys? They’d be quickly ushered out. Because we understand that little children can be distracting, we can kind of see why the disciples wanted to keep the children away from Jesus. Jesus was a busy and important man. He was teaching, healing while being hassled by His opposition. He only had a little bit of time to do all that He had to do, and He didn’t have time for children or childish things. The disciples couldn’t have been more wrong! What they couldn’t understand is that Jesus calls every child to Himself, and that means you too!
From the time children are born, they are learning. They learn crying gets them fed. They learn to tie their shoes and do math. They learn how to play sports or dance or how to do a job. We’d all agree that these things are critical things for our children to learn. But of all the things they’ll learn, of all the tasks they accomplish, of all the life lessons they are taught, nothing is more important than teaching them about Jesus. Yes, math and reading are important and learning a trade skill is also. But knowing Jesus is all about their eternal salvation! It’s about the peace they can have knowing Jesus loves them and forgives them. It’s about the courage they can have knowing how Jesus guides and protects them. The writer of Psalm 78 puts it this way, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.” God has done incredible things for us and our children, that’s why Jesus says to bring them to Him.
So why is it that we often act like church isn’t all that important? Children aren’t saved just because they’re baptized. It’s not a one and done. They need the faith that is given in their baptisms nurtured with God’s Word or it will die. So, if hearing God’s Word and receiving His blessings are the most important things for our children and for us, why do so many activities take precedence over them? We don’t feed children occasionally, right? We feed them every day. We must take the same attitude towards their faith and make sure they’re continually hearing and be fed with Jesus.
We can imagine the scene the Gospel paints for us because we can imagine the gentle Jesus tenderly holding the little ones on His lap. What we can’t picture is what happened right before this. Mark writes, “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant.” The word “indignant” is used in the Bible to describe the disciples getting angry with each other when they argued. It’s also used to describe the Pharisees attitude towards the behavior of the people on Palm Sunday when they shouted “Hosanna!” to Jesus. It’s only used one time to describe Jesus, and that’s in the Gospel. When the disciples kept the kids away, Jesus got angry. He wasn’t irritated or annoyed. He wasn’t troubled or upset. He was angry. He was righteously angry that the disciples would keep anyone, let alone children from hearing from Him. Nothing has changed since the days of Mark. Jesus still expects us to ensure that our children are coming close to Him, and when we don’t? He gets angry. And the age doesn’t matter! From the time the child is in the womb, it can hear God’s Word and as children grow up hearing God’s Word, they’re blessed, and God is pleased.
It’s common to hear people say that the children are the future of the Church. I’ve even said it. But this is the wrong! Children aren’t the future of the Church, they are the Church. Right now they’re just as much a part of the Church as you and I are. But the children can’t get here on their own – you must bring them. It’s a command of the Lord, and one we should joyfully obey. It’s here that Jesus blesses them with the faith and knowledge of all that He has done for them. It’s here that they are blessed by their God and Savior.
Lest you think this passage is only about children, think again. And don’t think either that the purpose is only powerful Law from God. When Jesus commands the children come to Him, He means you too because He has good things to give! We all need to hear the words of our Lord. We all need to be nurtured and nourished with His gifts of forgiveness and life. And when Jesus calls us to Himself, He wants us to come as children.
Children trust and love God. They know Jesus loves them and forgives them. If you ask them if God loves them, they shout “yes!” If you ask them if they love Jesus, there’s no hesitation. We adults make it too complicated. We have faith in our reason or logic. We try to explain things or excuse things. We look for deeper meanings and we question what we hear. Children are wonderful examples to us of what Jesus wants us to do. Jesus says to become like a child to receive salvation. Come humbly, trusting that what Jesus says is true. Come here and hear God’s promises. Have a childlike faith and never doubt that you’re loved, you’re forgiven, and you’re blessed by God.
The parents didn’t want Jesus to touch their babies and little children because they saw His touch as magical. They just knew that because Jesus was special, because they believed His what He said, anyone He touched was blessed. You’re blessed because the Holy Child of God, who lived and died for you, continues to touch you with His Word and Sacraments. It’s here that you’re touched by Christ and given forgiveness and the blessings that come to all those who are children of God. He calls us to Himself that we would be blessed here on earth and into eternity.
I doubt if President Trump will ever visit Lake View. If he does, he’ll want to see the children, but then there will be a time when their presence wouldn’t be appropriate. When it comes to Jesus, who is with us wherever we go, everyone is invited to see Him. He calls all children to Himself, from babies in their mothers’ arms to the elderly in their wheelchairs. We’re all His children and nothing, nothing is more important than what happens here in God’s house. Nothing is more special than the touch which bestows blessings on all God’s children. Let us remember the value that God puts on children, let us remember the value He puts on us. The value that’s so great Jesus paid for it with His life and now He saves all the young and all the old who are the children of God.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen