Jesus and the Children

Title: Jesus and the Children

Bible Book: Mark 10 : 13-16

Author: J. Gerald Harris

Subject: Children; Parents; Mother's Day



The message this morning has to do with Jesus and the children. The Bible teaches that children are a blessing from God. In Genesis 17:16 God was talking to Abraham concerning his wife Sarah. And God said, “I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother.” In Genesis 33 we read that Jacob and Esau came together to restore their severed relationship. For many years they had been separated because of bitterness and deceit and hatred. But when they came together, Esau said to Jacob, “Who are those with thee?” And Jacob said, “The children which God has graciously given thy servant.” In Psalm 127 the Bible says, “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

Now, I know that some of you here today do not have children. God has not blessed you with children. Don’t despair. Keep trusting. But I think that may mean that God has simply called you to a special sacrifice and that if you are faithful in that, he will have a special blessing for you. But I want you to know that there is one thing that I can do. I can bear witness to the fact that our children have been a great blessing to us. They’re not children anymore, but they continue to be a source of joy and a reason for thanksgiving.

I remember when Miriam, our daughter, had a loose tooth. I had been trying to get her to let me pull her loose tooth all week long. She vehemently refused to let us pull that tooth. Then Sunday morning came and she had just pulled that tooth in the church service, right before I was to get up to preach. As I stood to read the Scripture, I happened to look down where she and her mother were seated, and she was holding up that tooth with one hand and pointing to it with the other hand and smiling from cheek to cheek. There was that gaping hole in her smile where she had extracted that tooth, and she was so proud. By this time, the choir had detected what had happened and it nearly broke them up.

Children are indeed wonderful. I heard about this teacher who asked her class what each wanted to become when they grew up. One said, "I want to be the president."

Another said, "I want to be a fireman."

Another said, "I want to be an astronaut."

One by one they answered until it came Billy's turn.

The teacher asked, "Billy, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Possible," he said.

"Possible?" asked the teacher.

"Yes," Billy said, "my momma is always telling me I'm impossible. When I grow up I want to become possible."

An eight-year-old boy was discussing parent problems with his little friend, and of course they had a lot of complaints. Dustin was overheard grumbling, "First they teach you to talk, then they teach you to walk. And as soon as you do it, it's sit down and shut up."

I heard about this little boy whose puppy died. The boy was told that he would feel much better about this tragedy if he said a brief prayer. So that night he said his prayer on behalf of the puppy. "God, please take care of Sandy. He was a good dog. He never bit anyone. He never bothered the neighbors. He never wasted any food at mealtime. He never disobeyed. He always came when we called him. In fact, we all think he behaved better than anybody else in the family. Amen."

Well, children are a delight. What a joy. Someone has given this definition of a baby: "A baby is a small member of the animal kingdom that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bankroll smaller, the home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten and the future worth living for."

Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

I. The Stepping Stones For Children

If you’ll notice in verse 13, you will see that there are “those who brought young children to Jesus.” I have an idea that this is a reference to mothers and fathers- they brought their children to Jesus. These children were not chauffeured to where Jesus was in a limousine. They were not sent in a taxi. They didn’t ride the church bus. Their parents brought them to Jesus.

Parents, let me ask you a question. Are you bringing your children to the Lord? Are you introducing them to Jesus? Are you telling them about Jesus-why he died on the cross? Listen; don’t wait for someone else to do that. I cannot thing of a more precious privilege that you have. Bring them to Jesus. It's never too early to begin to introduce your child to Jesus Christ.

At a mothers meeting they were discussing the question, "How early in a child's life ought one to seek to influence that life to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord?" Many views, varied but vital, were expressed. The presiding mother observed that a visiting gray-haired grandmother, though evidently much interested, did not share in the discussion. She invited her comments and the aged visitor rose and made this arresting reply. "I'll tell you when I began to influence my daughter Christward. I began twenty years before she was born by giving myself to the saving and keeping power of Jesus Christ."

I say, "Yea, verily and amen." You begin the proper training of your children by making sure that your heart is right with God long before they ever come into this world. Then, when they come into this world, you begin to protect that influence upon their lives.

A mother asked a psychologist, "When should I start the religious training of my child?"

The psychologist said, "How old is your child?"

The mother said, "My child is five years old."

The psychologist said, "Dear mother, hurry home. You have already lost five years."

You know, sometimes I will have someone ask me the question, "Should I make my child go to Sunday School and church?" My stock answer to that question is, "Absolutely yes."

How do you answer your son when he comes to breakfast on Monday morning and announces to you that he's not going to school anymore? How do you answer that young son when he comes in very much grimy and dirty and says, "I'm not going to take a bath?" What do you do when your seven-year-old comes in and announces that he hates brushing his teeth and that he's flushed his toothbrush down the toilet and he is not going to brush his teeth anymore? How do you answer when your sick child says that he does not want to take that medicine?

I know what you do. You say, "Yes, young man, you are going to school on this Monday morning. Yes, my son, you are going to take a bath when you are dirty and grimy. Yes, you are going to brush your teeth whether you want to or not. And yes indeed you will take this medicine because it is the means whereby you're going to get well."

Then why all this timidity in the realm of his spiritual and decide what church he'll go to when he's old enough? You don't wait until he's old enough to decide whether he wants to go to school or not. You don't wait until he's old enough to decide whether he wishes to be clean or dirty. You don't wait until he's old enough to decide whether or not he'll brush his teeth. You don't wait until he's old enough to decide if he wants to take his medicine when he is sick.

You say, "What shall we say then when Junior announces he doesn't like to go to Sunday School and church?" That's an easy question to answer. Just be consistent. Live a conscientious, dedicated, faithful, Christian life before that child and say, "Son, in our house we all go to church and Sunday School, and that includes you."

I'll say this. It's never been an issue in our family. It's always been understood that we just go to the Lord's house on Sunday. Several years ago the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl, and our family is Washington Redskins fans. My dad pulls for the Redskins, I pull for the Redskins and our boys are Redskins fans, as well as Martha Jean and Miriam. You know, the Redskins used to be the most southern team. I mean, we had Redskins before we had Falcons and Dolphins and Saints and Cowboys. And so we've always pulled for the Redskins.

And so several years ago our boys were going to school at Northeast Louisiana University. They were playing football over there and the Redskins were in the Super Bowl. We had church that night and I preached. And I don't remember what all happened, but by the time we got home the game was over, but the Redskins had won. So I called the boys up over in Monroe, Louisiana, and I said, "Guys, what did you think of the game? How'd you like the game? Tell me about the game."

They said, "Well, the Redskins won."

I said, "Well, I know that, but tell me how they did it. Tell me what happened. Tell me what you think."

And they said, "Dad, we don't know. We were at church."

I'm just saying that it never was an issue as to whether or not we would go to church. I just believe that you're in God's house studying God's Word with God's people on God's day. It's never been an issue.

God bless you, parents, who bring your children to church. God bless you, parents, who bring your children to Jesus. You see, a child has a greater potential than anything I know. When you bring a child to Jesus it's like bringing Him a diamond in the rough. Such a diamond can be cut and polished and become of invaluable worth. The same is true of a child brought to Jesus.

So we see in our text the stepping stones, the facilitators, the encouragers, the parents who are exerting a positive spiritual influence upon their children. For it says, "and they brought young children to him.”


You know, it's hard to believe, but the disciples were the stumbling blocks in this case. Look in erse 13. It says, "and his disciples rebuked those that brought them." The disciples sound as if they are rough and stern. But if they sounded stern, I am sure that there were at least two reasons for it.

First of all, they wanted to protect Jesus. They saw how tired he was. They saw what healing cost him, for every time he healed, virtue went out of him. Somebody said, "Why, Jesus never got tired because he was God." Jesus indeed was God, but Jesus got tired just like you do at the end of a long busy day. Do you remember when Jesus went to Sychar and met the Samaritan woman? The Bible says, "Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well" (John 4:6). Jesus was often physically exhausted. The disciples tried to protect him from such fatigue.

Then Jesus had begun to talk to the disciples about a cross. They must have seen on his face the tension of his heart and soul. All that they wanted was to see that Jesus was not bothered. They could only think that at such a time as this the children were a nuisance to the Master.

But coupled with this thought was the belief that since there were so many insistent demands upon Jesus, that children were too insignificant for the Lord's time to be taken up by them. If it had been a prince who wished to come to Jesus, no doubt Peter and the rest of them would have diligently secured him an introduction. But, you see, these were only children - boys and girls. Surely, they thought, Jesus had worry enough without the intrusion of these juveniles. He had higher subjects for thought and graver objects of care. The children were so small, they were quite beneath his notice - at least that is what the disciples thought.

But do you know what I'm thinking about this morning? I'm thinking about those men who were responsible for the deaths of all those people in Oklahoma City. And the most heartbreaking scenes were the scenes where the children were extracted from the rubble; the scenes where the children were being carried to the hospitals- the pictures of the broken and the bleeding children.

This morning I’m thinking about the abortionists. Do you know that every day there are 4257 babies aborted in America. That’s an average of 177 every hour. That’s an average of three every minute. That’s an average of one ever twenty seconds. In Washington, DC, our nation’s capitol, there are three abortions for every one live births.

And I’m thinking of the child abusers. Occasionally on television you’ll hear of a parent who has beaten his little child to death. I’m thinking of Susan Smith, the mother who has been arrested for the drowning of her two children over in South Carolina.

I’m thinking of evil men who will take little children and use them as object in child pornography.

And I'm thinking of those who would take a little child and teach that child some terrible godless humanistic heresy - polluting a child's mind with lies.

Now, I believe with all of my heart that there is salvation for the men who perpetrated the atrocity in Oklahoma City. I believe there is salvation for the abortionist. I believe there is salvation for the child abuser. I believe there is salvation for Susan Smith. I believe there is salvation for the child pornographers. I believe there is salvation for those who would teach our children some heinous heresy, because I believe that God's grace is greater than all of our sins.

But I want to tell you that those who would be a stumbling block to our children and who are unrepentant and who are not saved, their future is dark and grim and foreboding.

One time Jesus was talking to the disciples about the importance of children. He said, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones... it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Now, the Jews ground corn by crushing it between two circular stones. This was done at home and in any cottage such a millstone could be seen. The upper stone which turned upon the lower stone was equipped with a handle. It was commonly of such size that the housewife could easily turn it. But the millstone that is used here employs another Greek word. The Greek word here is the term used for a grinding stone of such size that it needed a donkey or

an ox pulling it. I think the size of the millstone shows the awfulness of condemnation. It's a dangerous thing to be a stumbling block to a child. Don't offend the children. Don't hinder the children. Don't mislead the children.


The Lord does not see as we do. The Bible says, "Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly" (Psalm 138:6). Do you remember the story of the feeding of the 5000? Andrew came to Jesus with a small boy who had five loaves and two small fish. Andrew's comment was, "There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what are they among so many?"

Jesus' comment was "make the men sit down." In essence he was saying, "I'm going to show you how important this lad is." That which was insignificant to Andrew was significant for Jesus.

By the way, have you ever thought about what must have happened that afternoon when this lad rushed home to report on the feeding of the 5000? He must have burst into the house and yelled, "Mother, mother, I gave Jesus my picnic lunch." I'm sure that the poor mother was simply embarrassed. She must have said, "Oh, son, you didn't." She had heard about Jesus. She could not imagine her son giving Jesus two small sardines and some dry biscuits. The boy insisted, "But, mother, Jesus and I, we fed the multitudes. We had a miracle between us."

Jesus can see the significance of that which is insignificant to others. If you think the Lord will not notice the little and insignificant, listen to these words of Christ. He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall off the ground without your Father's notice" (Matthew 10:29). If God cares for sparrows, does he not care for children? One time Jesus was asked by the disciples, “ Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Do you know what he did? He put a child in the midst of them and said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

The children are very important to Jesus. There will be more children in heaven than adults. I believe that there will be multitudes of infant feet treading the streets of the New Jerusalem. The Bible says concerning children, “They always behold the face of our father which is in heaven.

Isn’t it wonderful how Jesus seems to have time for everybody? And by the way, I want to say that we need to make sure that we make time for the things that Jesus make time for.

A father was telling about his two boys, one was thirteen, the other was ten. And he had promised to take them to the circus. But at lunch there was a phone call. Some urgent business required his attention downtown. The two brothers braced themselves for the disappointment. And then they heard him say, "No, I won't be down. It will have to wait."

When he came back to the table, the mother smiled and said, "Honey, the circus keeps coming back, you know."

And the father said, "I know, but childhood doesn't."

Jesus seemed to have time for everybody, and particularly for the boys and girls. Are you taking time with your children?

Boys and girls, Jesus can look at you and see your potential. He can see wonderful possibilities in you that even your mom and dad have not noticed. He really thinks you're something special. Why, he'd get some of you pretty boys and girls down there and he’d give you a big hug.

You see, the reason I know that is because he did that when he was here on earth. The messianic prophecy of Isaiah 40 speaks of Jesus when it says “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white,

They are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Notice verse 16 of our text. It says “he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”


I want you to look with me at verses 14 and 15 and notice what Jesus said. In these verses he said "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."

There are some childlike characteristics that Jesus would commend to all of us. If we're to get into the kingdom of God, we must of necessity become as children in terms of humility. Most children have not yet learned to think in terms of place and pride and prestige. Most children shun prominence and publicity.

In keeping with that, let me say that no one ever marched into the kingdom of God proudly. I've seen folks who were just too proud for their own good. Just so proud, they could strut sitting down.

The Bible says "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 16:5).

The Bible says "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).

The Bible says "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12).

Oh, listen, hell is going to be full of good people who were too proud to get right with God, to confess their sins and publicly acknowledge Christ. Few adults are big enough to become little enough to be used of God. We need to humble ourselves as little children.

Then if we are to enter into the kingdom of God, we must of necessity become as children in our dependence. To a child, the state of dependence is a perfectly natural state. He is perfectly content to be utterly dependent upon those who love him and care for him. If men would accept the fact of their dependence upon God, a new strength and a new peace would enter into it.

We live in a do-it-yourself age. I was browsing through the city library several weeks ago and you cannot imagine how many "do-it-yourself books I saw. There was a book on do-it-yourself needlepoint. Another one on do-it-yourself puppets. There was a do-it-yourself guide to restoring antiques. There was a book on do-it-yourself home protection and a do-it-yourself moving book. They had a do-it-yourself psychotherapy book. In one of the Christian book stores I even saw a book on "Do It Yourself Guide To Holy Housewifery."

But I'll tell you one do-it-yourself book you won't find. You'd better not. That's a do-it-yourself salvation book. Brother, that's one thing you can't do yourself. You can try with all of your might and main, but you cannot save yourself. You must trust the Lord for that. You must depend upon God for that. We must of necessity become as children in our dependence.

Then, finally, we must become as children in our pondering realization of the things of God. You know when you tell a believing child the promises of the Word of God, how he opens his little eyes, how fully he believes the Word, how ready he is to ask for the blessing and to receive it and to act upon it. But as we grow older, we begin to live in a world which has grown old and gray and tired. The child lives in a world with a sheen on it, a world of wonder and delight.

We can reach that sad state in life when we look at the past as a wistful memory, when the spiritual honeymoon is over and our zeal for the Lord has cooled down. You remember that time when you loved the Lord and you loved the Bible and you didn't know any better than want to tell everybody. You were like a country boy come to town. You were a spiritual yokel maybe, and the sedate souls resting in Zion may have resented your zeal. But then you grew up and you've become educated and established and experienced and now you look with condescension and even distaste on these brash young Christians like you were once. You say to the young fellow, "0, yes, I used to expect miracles, but I got over it and you will too."

Oh, I hope you won't get over the wondering realization of the things of God. That's why I used to like to see Ethel Waters on the Billy Graham crusades. Do you remember Ethel Waters? She was that wonderful black lady who sang so beautifully. By the way, let me tell you that Ethel Waters was conceived as the result of a rape. The only reason that she could sing to the glory of God was because her mother decided that the life of that child was more important than the pain of that rape. Ethel Waters never lost the wondering realization of the things of God. Her faith was always vibrant and alive and exciting.

There ought to be something about our Christianity to smack the lips over. There ought to be a taste and a zest and a relish about it.

I read about an old boy down in Louisiana who got a real case of religion. When he got saved his parents thought he was crazy and sent him to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said, “Let’s see. Where were you born?”

He said, “Well, I’ve been born twice. Which time are you talking about?”

The psychiatrist cleared his throat and said, "Your father's name, please."

The old boy said, "I have a heavenly father and an earthly father. Which one are you talking about?"

The psychiatrist said, "Well, where is your home?"

The boy said, "Well, I have a heavenly home and an earthly home. Which one are you talking about?"

They said that before it was over they had to send the psychiatrist to a psychiatrist. You know, I like that.

But let me tell you, brother, if you have lost the glow that you once had, you need to come to the Lord as a little child and ask him to restore the wonder and the joy of salvation.

Jesus is the Christ for children. He is also the Christ for teenagers and for adults and for you. Jesus will not forbid anyone to come to him for salvation, for peace, for pardon, for power. In fact, “whosoever will may come." Amen


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