Welcoming, Loving, and Serving Children in Jesus' Name

Welcoming, Loving, and Serving Children in Jesus' Name

(Note: This is an excerpt from a sermon by John Kimbell, pastor of preaching for Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY)
We learn from Jesus that children are to be welcomed and loved.  
Mark 10:14 says, "But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'"

Back in chapter 9 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus had broken into the disciples’ argument over which one of them was the greatest and what did he say?

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:35).

What was Jesus saying? I want you to give yourselves for the good of those in need, those who are weak, those who are vulnerable, those who are dependent. Welcome them. Serve them. Love them. Provide for them in my name and when you do it will be regarded as service to Me and to My Father who sent Me.

And here the disciples are given a prime opportunity to put Jesus’ teaching into practice and they miss it big time. And when Jesus sees the disciples’ response, rebuking these families and forbidding their children from being brought to Jesus, He was indignant. That word indignant is a strong word. He was frustrated to the point of anger. And Jesus says to them, “I welcome these children. I am glad to give them my time and attention and affection and care.”

And clearly as disciples of Christ we are called to do the same.

There is a glorious reflection of the character of God and the love of Christ put on display throughout the world in household after household of parents who pour out their lives for children who are dependent upon their care. The daily, sacrificial tasks of parents waking up in the night, changing diapers, doing laundry, reading the same books over and over and over again, listening patiently to figure out the point of a conversation, playing board games and bandaging skinned knees, packing lunches and fixing dinners and coaching sports and helping with homework and attending performances. Tucking them into bed at night, reading the Scriptures with them and praying with them and singing with them, and dropping yourself into bed really tired at the end of the day. And then waking up the next morning to do it all again...for years.

I want to make special mention of moms here. Many in the world today will scoff at the significance of a mom devoting herself to the care of her children, limiting the work and ministry that she is able to do outside the home, not making lots of money, not receiving lots of public recognition, not rubbing elbows with the the powerful in society, not doing “meaningful” work.  

And Jesus is indignant at those who would scoff at such a beautiful reflection of God’s character and Christ’s love. Jesus says such people don’t understand my Kingdom. They don’t understand my own character as the King. I have not come to be served, but to serve. I have not come to build my Kingdom upon the backs of the weak and the dependent, but to take the weak and the dependent upon my back that I might save and protect and provide for their needs. And I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.

Children are to be welcomed and loved and served in Jesus’ name.

John Kimbell is pastor of preaching at Clifton Baptist Church. He and his wife Sarah have six children. John completed his M.Div. (2003) and Ph.D. (2008, NT Theology) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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