Summary: God tells us that all children who believe and all who believe like little children are citizens of his Kingdom.
I’ve got a question. What country do you have citizenship in? You know, in the two months that Divine Savior Lutheran Church has been here in Doral, we have had people from more than twenty different countries visit our church. And of those people, many have citizenship here in the United States, but many others maintain their citizenship in their native country and are just here as permanent residents or with temporary visas. But I ask you again, “Where do you have your citizenship?” I’m going to read again the Gospel for this morning from Mark chapter 10, because here Christ tells us how we can receive citizenship in the Kingdom of God...
I. Every child that believes.
We find Jesus here at the very end of his ministry here on earth. Soon he will begin the long journey of tears to Jerusalem, to Calvary, to the cross where he will die for the sins of all people. But in this chapter our Lord continues to instruct his disciples about the “Kingdom of God.” Now, when we hear the phrase “Kingdom of God”, what immediately comes to mind? Well, heaven, right? But when the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of God it is not only referring to heaven, because the Kingdom of God is here among us. To put it simply, the Kingdom of God is Christ’s reign in heaven and in the hearts of all those who believe in him. In heaven we will see the kingdom in all it’s perfection, but even now here in the world, God is reigning among us.
So the question is, how does one obtain a place in the Kingdom of God or become a citizen of it? Well, Jesus tells us here in our text: All children who believe and all who believe like little children are citizens of the Kingdom of God. All children who believe and all who believe like little children...
We see here very clearly that God wants even the smallest of children to be saved. And this is nothing new, since the beginning God has wanted all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. That’s why Jesus was so indignant, upset, mad at his disciples when they didn’t let the children go to him.
It seems like the disciples thought that Christ had other more important things to do. So why bother the great Messiah with these crying, snot-nosed little kids? Really the disciples still didn’t understand why Jesus had come into the world and they wouldn’t understand completely until after his resurrection. The thing is all souls: of adults, children, babies and teenagers – all souls are important to God.
Even more, Jesus knew that these children need him, just like adults do, because there are sinners. You know many people think that since Jesus said, “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”, that he is saying that children are somehow better than adults, more innocent and closer to God. Be careful, that is not what Jesus is saying here. In Psalm 51, King David reminds us that from the moment we were conceived, we have been sinners. St. Paul reminds us that all (including even the tiniest babies) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Little babies, even though they look real cute and innocent, aren’t so innocent. You can see that real clearly by just putting two babies or little children in a room with just one toy. What’ll happen? They’ll fight over the toy, right? Little children are selfish, they get angry and they lie just like adults.
And that is why Christ was so concerned about them, because they needed him. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Those words apply to little children and babies as well. They are sinners who need a Savior. Jesus Christ is that Savior. They receive him by faith, or in other words, they become citizens of God’s Kingdom when they believe.
But pastor, how can a baby believe if he can’t even talk? It seems impossible because a baby doesn’t have the mental capacity to do it, right? Well, Christ tells us in this same chapter of Mark: With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God. Like we saw in the second reading for this morning, faith isn’t a result of human reasoning or of our mental capabilities, but rather it is given to us by God through this message that the world thinks is foolishness.
God in his mercy and power gives faith to babies through Holy Baptism. We can’t see how they come to believe, but we know that through water and the Word the Holy Spirit enters their hearts. That’s why it is so important to baptize babies. Don’t put it off, because through this sacrament, God gives faith, and through that faith, they receive citizenship in God’s Kingdom and the right to enter heaven.