Let the Little Children Come to Jesus: Mark 10:13-16 (PART 3)

(The following is part three in a three part series by board member Rev. Matthew Black) (Part 1) (Part 2)

III. We all need to come to Jesus like a child, “receive the kingdom…like a little child” vs. 15.

Receive Christ as a Child

Mark 10:15, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The word translated “never” is very strong. Without total humility you will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER enter in to God’s Kingdom. You will be lost forever unless you become so humble that you are willing to lose your reputation. You can never be saved unless you are willing to lose your worldly ambition. Nothing can compare to knowing Christ.

Every Child, and Every Adult Needs Jesus

New Testament scholar William Lane comments: “The solemn pronouncement is directed to the disciples, but has pertinence for all men confronted by the gospel because it speaks of the condition for entrance into the Kingdom of God.” [1]

For starters, coming as a “little child” does not infer innocence. Any two-year-old dispels such a notion! Neither does “like a little child” suggest the wondrous subjective states we often find in children such as trustfulness, receptivity, simplicity, or wonder, beautiful as these are.[2]

What Jesus has in mind here is an objective state which every child who has ever lived, regardless of race, culture, or background, has experienced—helpless dependence.

Every single child in the world is absolutely, completely, totally, objectively, subjectively, existentially helpless! And so it is with every child who is born into the Kingdom of God. Children of the Kingdom enter it helpless, ones for whom everything must be done. As Augustus Toplady composed:

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress:

Helpless, look to Thee for grace.[3]

The truth is, we are all helpless to save ourselves. Have you come to Christ like this? Is it his grace plus your nothingness?

The realization that one is as helpless as a child naturally fosters humility. Jesus gave reference to this connection when, in a similar but separate statement, he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4, NIV).

A Child Has No Self Respect

A child has no self-respect. How many of us have heard from the behind the bathroom door while company is around the table: “Daddy, come wipe me!” A child knows his or her needs and shouts them from the rooftops without any blushing! Children don’t come in negotiating. They come in saying, “Daddy.” They’re helpless.

Children Expect to be Accepted

On the other hand, here’s what’s weird. Children expect to be accepted. They expect to be loved. A 4-year-old walks in and is sure everybody is interested in what she or he wants to say. They’re positive everyone will find them completely interesting. They’re totally sure of acceptance.[4] On my way back from Brazil I met a little boy named Arturo on our cramped airplane. I’m sure it was a 747, but it was a full flight. Little 4 year old Arturo’s head was on his father’s lap, but Arturo’s feet were sprawled out right below my chin. I had to be careful – sometimes I got a little kick in the chin. I didn’t mind at all! I told the dad, I’m not bothered, and I wasn’t! And Arturo was just fine. He felt totally fine and welcomed.

Come to Me!

Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Parents, Come to Jesus

John Calvin commented, “The passage broadens to give kingdom citizenship to both children and those who are like them.”[5]

Parents, the best gift you can give to your children is to come to Jesus Christ yourself. Don’t trust in your religion. You may be Protestant or Catholic or Methodist. Religion never saved anyone. The devils believe in God and tremble. You cannot come through a church or through your mother or father. You must come through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the Life, no one comes unto the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

IV. Bring children to Christ that He may bless them, “he took the children…and blessed them” vs. 16.

Jesus Fervently Blessed the Children

Mark 10:16, “And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

Children were always comfortable with Jesus. They could tell he loved them. They lay their heads against his chest, and he “blessed them.” The word translated “blessed” means “fervently blessed.” Christ was enthusiastic! He was filled with deep joy! Christ did this joyfully, with a fervent heart, for they refreshed his spirit. Jesus must have smiled with infinite kindness as He looked into the faces of those tiny children. We do not know the specific nature of His blessing, but we can surmise that He prayed for them to enter the Kingdom by faith, and some of them who could understand were blessed at that moment with eternal salvation.[6]

Bless Your Children By Bringing Them to Christ

Look at the love of Christ for your children. How do you get your priorities rightly aligned? We must look at Christ’s HEART. We must see that the only hope for our children is to bring them to Jesus.

  • A nice home and car, and
  • a good education and
  • good grades will do your children NO GOOD in hell.
  • We must bring them to Christ.

Christ literally took these children in his arms one by one from the mothers and fathers. He took care personally to deal with each one. Verse 16, “And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” It is the parent’s responsibility to teach and evangelize their children—we seek His blessing, specifically the blessing of the NEW BIRTH. Without that radical transformation of the heart, no one will enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3). We need Christ to take our children in His arms and transform them!

Parents Are Spiritual Heart Surgeons

We as parents, especially fathers, are responsible to bring our children to Jesus. We as parents are spiritual heart surgeons. We must constantly feel the weight and burden that our children may one day enter hell if we neglect their soul! We are responsible for what goes into our child’s heart 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Do not allow yourself to wiggle out of that responsibility. You will be held accountable for raising your children.

Do you desire to be held in Christ’s arms, to hear him pronounce blessings over you? Do you have the blessing of eternal salvation?

Difficult Truth

For some of you this is a difficult truth to consider. You may be someone who has lost a child. The pain never goes away. Or perhaps you have longed for children and though you’ve never had children, you feel a sense of loss.

God Gave Up His Son

Let me tell you, that God knows your loss. The reason we can have eternal life is because Our heavenly Father gave up His perfect, spotless, wonderful Son. Our children sin, but God’s Son never did anything wrong.

He became sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Of Such is the Kingdom

There is coming a day when we will all stand before God. What will happen at that day? We will all stand alone. Bring your children to Jesus. Bring yourself to Jesus in childlike faith. “Of such is the Kingdom of heaven!”

[1] William Lane, The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), 360.

[2] Hughes, 59.

[3] Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778. Rock of Ages Cleft for Me.

[4] Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

[5] John Calvin, Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels.

[6] MacArthur, Matthew (Mt 19:13).