Today Pastor Choi talks about Jesus’ blessing of the children: permit them to come to Me and do not stop them (Mark 10:14). Sharing his own experience in parenting, he exhorts the parents to keep eternal perspective and to remember the law of harvest in parenting. Finally, he recommends the parents to bless children daily, equip them with God’s Word, and have family devotions in order to raise healthy and happy children in the Lord.
The following is a summary of his sermon:
Blessing of the Children
Mark 10:13-16 New American Standard Bible
13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
- Think about it! What Jesus did and said towards children were revolutionary in the first century standards in Israel. Back then, children and women were not equal to men. They were considered and treated as inferior to men in many aspects. They were not even counted as individuals. For instance, in a room, let’s say, there are 10 men, 10 women, and 10 children. Today, the head count would be 30. However, if someone counted back then, he would say 1o people besides women and children. In fact, that’s how they counted the crowd in the time of Moses when the Israelites came out of Egypt (approximately 3,500 years ago). That’s also how they counted the crowd when Jesus fed the multitudes with the five loaves and two fish—5,000 people. Had women and children been counted, the number would have been at least 15,000.
- One thing is for sure. Jesus was different. He kept the children dear in His heart. He loved them so much that when His own disciples shooed away the parents who brought their children to Jesus for blessing, He got indignant. You don’t see Him often angry, but this time He got really upset. I understand why the disciples rebuked the parents. They believed that their master had no time to see the little ones. There are so many other people to look after, not the children! To such disciples Jesus said, “What are you doing? Let the children come to me and do not stop them.” In my imagination, I almost see His red face. I almost hear His raised voice. The message was clear. Let the children come to me.
- The same Jesus still loves the children and welcomes them into His kingdom. As Jesus said in today’s text, I expect to see a lot of children in God’s kingdom. I also expect to see in our congregation a lot of adults who are child-like, not childish. The child-like adults receive God’s kingdom like a child does—with simple trust and obedience, not with doubts or calculations. Let me repeat Jesus’ warning: Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all (v. 15).
- Jesus commands us to welcome children in God’s house. That’s why we as Christ’s body always welcome children. So, next time, when you hear a baby crying in the middle of service, don’t get annoyed like the disciples did. Rather, remember and thank Jesus that we still have children in our midst. Children are always welcome in our midst. Listen to what Jesus said: “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me” (Mark 9:37, NASB). By welcoming children among us, we welcome God among us.
- God also commands us not to cause little ones to stumble in their journey to Heaven. Listen to Jesus again: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42, NASB). If we made the children sin against God by our poor examples, Jesus said, we would be better off dying than facing the consequences. In other words, God will hold us accountable with what we have done with our children.
- This morning, we will briefly think about children and parenting. If this topic doesn’t concern you, you can still pass along this message to the parents of young children.
- First, children are a gift from God. God gave them to us. We don’t own them. They are precious, adorable, and wonderful. They bring us joy, laughter, and sometimes tears and headaches. With them we walk our life’s journey together. Together we create wonderful memories with children. We are the family.
- In family, parents take the crucial role: it is called parenting. We are the caretakers of our children. We are the stewards in whose hands God entrusts children. It is our privilege as well as responsibility to raise them as children of God and as responsible citizens in our society. In fact, the future of our society depends on your family: you and your child.
- I wish that parenting were a piece of cake. Most of the time, it is rewarding, but sometimes, it gets challenging. It is wonderful and horrible at times. We all wish that each child were born with a customized manual, but they are not. Don’t despair, though. God can help you and so can the Church.
- Two things helped me in parenting: First, eternal perspective. When you look at your child’s life through the lens of eternity, everything looks different. You will realize that the life on earth is only the stepping stone to eternal life. The goal of parenting would be different. The means of parenting would change as well. When you begin with eternal life in mind, you would realize that what you do here and now prepares your child for eternity. Many of parents would say, I want my child to have a good education and enjoy a happy life, and so on, but those goals are all about the life here on earth. What about their eternal life? Therefore, ask questions like “What can I do to prepare my child to be in the presence of God forever?” “What do I want them to be like in the end?” or “What should be their first priority in life?”
- My wife and I wanted our child to be with Jesus in Heaven. We always prayed that she would know God and that she would love God and her neighbors. Once our priorities were set, we organized everything around the priorities and executed them. E.g. Sunday morning sports vs. worship, no sleepovers on Saturdays.
- Next, the law of harvest. We harvest what we sow. We cannot harvest corn where we planted tomatoes. My personal observation tells me that there’s a 20-year cycle. What I sow today, I will harvest the fruit twenty years later. Today I enjoy the fruit of my twenty years of investing my life in my child’s life. Love and trust. Fun and laughter. Blessings and prayers. I still plant today for the next twenty years of relationship with my child.
- Three things I recommend to the parents:
- Pray: lay hands on your child’s head and bless him/her in the name of the Lord. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and even Jesus did it. This will instill security in your child’s heart. This biblical practice is too good to miss. Remember: who will pray and bless your child if you don’t? E.g. I used to do daily blessings for my daughter one in the morning and one at night.
- Bible: Equip your child with a life-long help: the Bible. After all, it is a divine and supernatural means to help your child. “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesian 6:4, NASB). E.g. In my family, we chose an age appropriate Bible for our child to instill early in her heart a godly habit of getting into God’s Word. Daily. It would have been foolish of us if we had failed to do so. Why? Because, God’s Word will help our children to develop a life-long relationship with God. It will equip them with a right understanding of people. For instance, everyone is equal under God, no one is under or above others. It will also help them to cultivate a healthy self-esteem in God.
- Family Devotions: Have family devotions once a day after dinner. Have everybody participate. Read a short passage from the Bible. Share joys and concerns, and pray together. End the devotions with the Lord’s prayer. It takes about 10 minutes. You will be blessed beyond your imagination. I will follow up on this topic next month.
- My blessings and prayers are with every family to raise a healthy and happy child in the Lord. Amen.