What is a church to do for children?
Does a lack of children in any church mean that there is not much for children there?
What does it mean if a church has no children’s church? no youth group? no youth pastor? Does this mean that there is nothing for children there?
What does it mean if a church has children’s church? a youth group? a youth pastor? Does this mean that there is something for children there?
What is a church to do for children?
Luke 18 is a part of the largest section of the Gospel of Luke. And there are just three sections: before Jerusalem (Luke 1 thru Luke 9:50); on the road to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 thru Luke 19:40); and finally in Jerusalem (Luke 19:41 thru Luke 24). So in Luke 18 there is not much further to go; we are almost to Jerusalem. When we finally get arrive in Jerusalem, we are only there for about a week. So, let’s consider Luke 18 the week before getting to Jerusalem. And the week before getting to Jerusalem, what does Jesus spend time doing?
In Luke 18:15-17, what does Jesus spend time doing? Two things. 1) Jesus spends time teaching us something about children. 2) And Jesus spends time teaching us something about children.
And in these verses there is one key word. It is the word help.
They Brought Even Infants to Him
Luke 18:15-17 is really simple. A particular kind of people, we might say a particular pair of people do something. And the disciples do not like it. Those who want to know Jesus better and help others do the same, do not like it. The disciples rebuke the particular pair of people for doing something. And Jesus corrects the disciples; he corrects their thinking about what is being done.
Notice verse fifteen. “Now they were bringing even infants to him.” Somebodies brought even infants to Jesus. They brought 18 year olds and 16 year olds and 11 year olds and 9 year olds and 5 year olds and even babies to Jesus (and what is to say that they did not bring 45 year olds to Jesus, too?). And why? That he would place his hand upon their head and bless them (cf. Mark 10:16). We see this custom all the way back in the Old Testament. Mark it down. We will see it in a moment – Genesis 48:8-20.
But first, who is bringing all these kids, even babies to Jesus? It is rather ambiguous – they. Who are they? Who might they be? It is parents; moms and dads bringing their kids to Jesus.
And the Disciples Rebuked Them
And the disciples rebuked them. Look closely. Who did the disciples rebuke? The disciples – those who want to know Jesus better and help others do the same – rebuked the parents for bringing their kids to Jesus.
Picture the scene. There are parents, kids, Jesus and disciples. Now notice Genesis 48:8-20. And picture this scene. In this scene are a parent, two kids and a grandparent. It is Joseph, his two sons and their grandfather Jacob. In verse nine, Jacob tells Joseph, “Bring my two grandsons to me, please, that I may bless them.” And so he does. Jacob then places his hands on his grandsons’ heads and prays for them (Genesis 48:14-16; 20).
This is rather similar to Luke 18:15-17, except for one thing: the disciples. Parents brought their kids to Jesus and the disciples put a stop to it. Now watch what Jesus does. He called to the disciples. He took them to the side and said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.”
These are two commands, not good ideas or advice, but commands. These are two commands for disciples to follow. Let children come to him. And do not hinder them. But why the two commands? It would seem that if I let children come to Jesus, I am not hindering them from coming to Jesus. But what is the opposite of hinder? Help. Help them. Let the children come to Me and help them.
The disciples were to be helping what was happening, not hindering what was happening. And what was happening? Parents brought their kids to Jesus. Disciples, do not hinder this from happening.
The big idea of Luke 18:15-17 is that disciples are to be a help to parents, not a hindrance to parents as they desire to bring their kids to Jesus.
The church family is to be a help to the family, not a hindrance to the family. And we are a hindrance when we do not help!
How Can We Help Your Family?
So, the question is, how can we help the family? How can the church family help the family? What is the best possible way of doing that?
In Luke 17:3 is a command. Pay attention to yourselves! Or, each one of you watch out for each one of you.
1) As a church family, each one of us must recognize that each one of us includes the younger of us.
Well then, how do we do that? Do you know the younger of us? Do you know their interests, their likes and dislikes? Do you speak with them? pray for them? laugh with them? find ways to encourage them? What will happen when you do this? When they are 16 you will hear them say, “Thank you. God used you to get me excited about him and his Word for the very first time.” Friends, that does not come from a program; that is genuine children’s ministry and youth ministry.
Yet, we are still asking, how can we help the family? Equip mom and dad.
2) As a church family, each one of us must recognize that each one of us includes moms and dads.
Moms and dads who have been through it, spend time with moms and dads who are going through it! If you have never been through it because you are not a mom or dad, you put your parents through it, so spend time with moms and dads.
And moms and dads, learn these things from your church family:
Make time for worship with your church family.
Make time for worship in your home.
Fellowship with other Christians as a family.
Your children need to see you apply God’s Word to daily living.
Put affection for one another on display!
Talk about deep and important things with children.
Read God’s Word together. Hear each other pray.
Live out being a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).
Live out the brevity of life.
Why Be a Help to the Family?
Why be a help to the family? Jesus has one more thing to teach us about children. It is introduced at the end of verse 16 and expanded in verse 17.
Look at verse 17. It is the pivotal point. And he says it to disciples. “Truly, I say to you…” Note the words to come: like a child. Children are helpless, from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. The federal government calls them dependents. “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Why be a help to the family? I know what it means to be helpless. Those who have received the kingdom of God, eternal life, know that they did not do so on their own merit or their own doing. But instead by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, fully relying on his finished work at the cross. It is this humble attitude that says, “I will be a help to the family.”