As many of you know, I do occasional tour groups at the Antietam Battlefield (where I am sitting and writing this final devotional of the summer series). I talk with guests about how the Confederates under A.P. Hill marched 17 miles in 7 hours to arrive on the field just in time to save Robert E. Lee from total disaster.
For them to have done this, it also included wading across the Potomac River at a ford just downstream several hundred yards from where the bridge now is that crosses into Shepherdstown.
And when there are kids in the group, I will say to them, “Hey, it is a shallow place and we could probably go down there now and do the same thing; do you want to do that?”
And invariably the kids will answer, “Yes, that would be so cool; let’s go do it!”
And invariably the parents will say, “No, we’re not going to be doing that!”
Kids are great because they are completely trusting when they sense they are in the care of someone who genuinely loves them and cares for them. They fully believe that those adults will only do those things that will help them, not hurt them.
Another example — a toddler is only about one-quarter the size of a typical grown up. So, imagine if a 24-foot tall giant was to come along, pick you up under the armpits and throw you up and down 40 feet into the air, would you welcome that activity and giggle all the way through it like a little child does?
Didn’t think so!
In today’s reading we see how people were bringing their little ones to Jesus to be blessed and to meet this great teacher in whom they had come to have great respect and faith.
The Little Children and Jesus
Luke 18:15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
This passage is included also in both Matthew and Mark. And when we take the three accounts together, there are three things I would really like to emphasize from it …
First, the words used for children here are not limited to babies or tiny infants, but rather refer to children up to about 12 or 13 years old. The people were bringing families — don’t think of this as an infant dedication service of newborns. Yet at the same time, it is similar in one respect — that it involved the faith of parents in the person of Jesus and their desire for their children to be intimately connected to him.
Secondly, when Jesus rebukes the disciples for forbidding and discouraging this (they thinking that they were protecting Jesus from being bothered), the English translations do not capture the original text’s intensity. His words to them were very sharp, intense, pointed, and filled with emotion. He greatly desired them to come.
And finally, the picture is profoundly accurate to portray both the simple and humble faith of those who come genuinely to God, as well as the desire of God for them to come to him in full trust for salvation and life eternal in His Kingdom.
FINAL NOTE >> It has been a good summer series in the Parables. We next turn to six weeks of study in the book of Esther, and we will be back in less than two weeks with an accompanying devotionals series for that.