Permit the children to come to Me

Mark 9:36-37

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Jesus and the disciples had traveled to Capernaum and along the way the disciples had argued between each other who would be greatest in the Kingdom. They had now entered a home and Jesus asked them what they had been discussing. Jesus pointed out to the disciples that His followers were to be servants of the people and not lords over them. The Christian life is a life of service, service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a servant to our neighbors. He who wants to be first must be last and in service to all. To drive His lesson home Jesus uses an object lesson to present His case. A child was in the home they were having this conversation in and Jesus used the child to make His point about God’s idea of greatness and significance.

Taking the child into His arms 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.” This child was probably Peter or Andrew’s which Jesus had singled out. Jesus wraps His arms around the child as says, “True greatness has a lot like to do with our relationship with a child.” Jesus then goes on to teach three significant points regarding greatness and importance in God’s Kingdom.

The first thing Jesus explains is that we have to love people. Look again at verse 37. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” In understanding this verse the key thing to notice is the phrase, “in my name.” We do not take a child into our arms because of his present ability to advance our welfare. We do not take a child into our arms to increase our stature in the community. We welcome a child into our arms solely out of love. God is love and receiving a child into our arms in the name of Jesus is accepting that child in the love of God.

William Barclay wrote this. “Now, a child has no influence at all. A child cannot advance a man’s career, nor enhance a man’s prestige. A child cannot give us things; it’s the other way around. A child needs things. A child must have things done for him. And so Jesus is saying, ‘If a man welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence, and no wealth, and no power, the people who need things done for them, then he’s welcoming me. And more than that, he’s welcoming God.'”

The first point of Jesus to His disciples is this, to achieve greatness and significance and greatness in the Kingdom of God we must welcome and love people. Love cannot be in consideration of what that person can do for us. The way of the world will tell us to use people for personal gain but God tells us to love people because they are His creation and He loves them.

This point triggers a question in the mind of the disciple John. “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38) John is wondering if they had done the right according to what Jesus had just said. Jesus replied, “Do not stop him, No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40)

There is a strong in point in this application. Over time the Church has evolved into many denominations with different viewpoints of their belief. The question becomes here should we shun them or have nothing to do with believers of different denominations within the Church? Should we be separate from them? “No”. Jesus is saying here, “If they keep the main thing, the main thing-faith in Jesus alone for salvation, then we are on the same team.” As members of the same team we should not bicker amongst ourselves, this attitude will destroy the whole of the team effort to fulfill the great commission.

The second point is to help the less mature to become more mature. We read this point in verses 41 and 42. “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” (Mark 9:41-42)

Simply put is that if you want to become a significant person in the Kingdom of God you will help one who is less spiritually mature to become more spiritually mature. Even a small ministry in the name of Jesus in helping a developing believer and is a great value to God. Children’s Sunday school teachers, children’s Worship leaders, and nursery workers in the Church are of great value in God’s Kingdom. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) These workers in the Church are training up the minds of the children with the Word of God. One of the greatest things we can do for the future of the children is teach them the truth of God.

In verse 42 we read the warning that if we hinder the spiritual growth of a child or a new believer in Christ we are subject to the wrath of God. The nurturing of children and new believers is incredibly important to God.

To help those on their spiritual walk with Jesus is to live a life of great significance and have a lasting impact thus you will be involved in helping the less mature become more mature in their faith in God.

The final point of significance and greatness in the Kingdom of God is that we must be willing to judge our self. In verses 43 through 48 we read. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” We must remember here that Jesus still has a child in his arms so we are not only talking about sin in these verses. The context is what you might be doing to harm the spiritual growth of the less spiritually mature believer or child.

Jesus us saying here that if we have sin in our life we must remove it. Sin in our life will discount our testimony and cause a stumbling block in the path of a less mature believer or child. As followers of Jesus, we must confess and repent of our sin on a day by day bases in order to protect our testimony. Sin in our life not only affects the young believer but also affects the whole body of Christ.

But, if you are honest with yourself, and honestly examine your life. And if in doing that you discover even the hint of sin or inappropriate character, and seek to remove it, then you are a person who is destined for greatness in the Kingdom of God. You are a person of true significance.


Thomas N Kirkpatrick

December 7, 2013

Durant Bible College.

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