Summary: This sermon explores Jesus’ mysterious statement that "anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:13-16
“No Child Left Beyond” by Matthew Everhard. Originally preached at the Hudson Presbyterian Church on September 26, 2004: Words 2089
Most of you know that our church recently sent out a team of 7 adults to an orphanage in El Salvador this summer: the first mission trip of its kind for our church. Of all of the sights and sounds in this third-world country, perhaps nothing gripped us more than the stories of how some of the children arrived in the orphanage in the first place. There’s the story of Tito, whose alcoholic father beat and abused him until he was finally imprisoned. There’s the story of Miguel whose parents dumped him on the side of the street like garbage and drove off. In his own words he “walked and walked and walked and walked” until one day someone finally found him and brought him in. And of course we couldn’t forget the tiny girl with the eye-patch and the feeble arm, whose parents simply locked her in an unused room, never bothering to even to teach her to speak or to use the restroom or even to walk. I think we could simply say that we fell in love with these children. And we thank God that somebody cared enough to love them full-time. I am so glad that we serve a Savior who loves the children of the world. Jesus loves children!
One time, Jesus was right in the midst of the busyness of ministry when a strange phenomenon began to occur. As Jesus was trying to preach, or pray, or heal—people (began) bringing little children to Him in order that He might touch them (v. 13). Parents started pushing their way through the crowd, with their children in their arms, sometimes one in each arm! At first it was only a couple children at a time. But soon everyone was bringing their children to Jesus to have them blessed by the miracle worker. (By the way parents, “Bringing your children to Jesus” is the foremost goal of Christian parenting). In all the mayhem, I imagine Jesus stopped whatever He was doing to honor each parents’ request. The whole scene must have looked like the first day of Vacation Bible School!
And since we all know what chaos THAT can be, we can sort of relate when the disciples started getting ticked off rather quickly. In fact, Scripture says The disciples spoke sternly to them (v. 13). “Quit wasting the Rabbi’s time!” “WE’VE got more important things to do than to baby-sit a bunch of ankle-biters!” And so the disciples took on a role that Jesus had never assigned them: bodyguard.
You know, we (Christians) place such a value on children today that it is hard to understand why the disciples wouldn’t want children to be brought to Jesus. But we have to understand that in the ancient culture, children were just a notch above tax collectors and lepers. In fact, archaeologists once discovered an ancient papyrus that was apparently a letter from a husband to his pregnant wife. It read in part, “If the child is a boy, keep it! If it is a girl, expose it.” In other words, just leave it out to die—to starve or be eaten or stolen. It’s hard to believe that any culture would tolerate and accept the practice of simply eliminating inconvenient children.
I’m not saying that the disciples ever approved of that or that they tolerated the practice of exposing children. I’m just saying that’s the ancient mindset about the value of children. That’s why they were annoyed! They thought kids were cute and cuddly but not important enough to stop the ministry-machine!
But let me tell you, it was a good thing Jesus saw the whole thing go down! He heard those sly comments from the disciples and the gospel of Mark tells us that when Jesus saw this, He was indignant (v. 14)! In fact it’s one of the only times in Scripture where Jesus is described as “indignant”—righteous with anger!
And so with a child on each knee, or so I picture Him, Jesus used this opportunity to preach the Kingdom Of God. And not only does He give a full reversal of Peter and the Boys’ decision, but He turns the disciples and everyone else within earshot on their heads by telling them “Instead of stopping these kids, you’d better become LIKE them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these!”
And then Jesus makes a statement about the Kingdom, that is so bizarre to their worldview, so baffling to their understanding, that nearly everyone would have left that day scratching their heads! Do you know what He said? He said I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (v. 15).