“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18.15-17
Some people argue against infant baptism in the Bible which is easy to do if you equate it to “believers baptism” or if it’s not followed up by a confirmation class. In my United Methodist Church tradition, babies are baptized but this serves as more of an act of dedication and commitment than a sign of their salvation. And then, at the age of 12 or 14, the child goes through confirmation class which is “membership” within the church in which they then give their life to Christ, participate in a ceremony in which they remember their baptism, and chose to live in fellowship with God and others by serving the church at large. (This isn’t a argument for or against infant baptism although I believe baptism applies to conscious “believers” rather than infants, who can’t yet “believe” but stand to receive God’s blessing through a process similar to the Jewish act of circumcision.) This is an argument , however, for Jesus to bless our children, babies in particular, as mentioned in this passage, and the need we all have for child-like faith in order to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.
So, Jesus was on the road again, he was in small local towns ministering to the people, performing miracles and spreading the good news of the forgiveness of sins. People were bringing babies to Jesus for him to “place his hands on.” But his disciples apparently thought this was “beneath him.” They were, by the way, children with no social standing, whatsoever. They had no vote in society, they owned practically nothing, and had no wealth. Nothing could be gained by Jesus taking time to minister to them.
But Jesus saw it differently. He wanted to to bless the children and even rebuked his disciples when they tried to prevent him from blessing them. Jesus said, “Let them come!” “Don’t stop them!” “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” That must have been an incredible shock when Jesus said these words in support of children.
Yet Jesus continued his teaching by saying, “I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” It wasn’t so much what the children had to offer but the example they could provide for the rest of us. Jesus wants child-like and simple belief, innocent love, and warm hearts.
When I led the chapels for Faith Academy Marble Falls for the past six years, I saw within the children, a beautiful innocence and love for God that was not often evidenced in adults. I saw it in youth as well but especially in children. They would look up at me with wild-eyed innocence and believe that God loved them, cared for them, and that Jesus died for their sins.
Having a child-like faith is so important to believers. Our complex understanding of theology, the nature of God and the workings and role of the church are necessary, but not without a simple belief in Jesus as Lord and God as Father.
Are you believing in Jesus with simplicity, love and grace? Are you able to smile, laugh, weep and rejoice in God your Savior? Can you dance before him in worship, sing before him in praise, walk before him by faith? Allow the words of Jesus to sink deeply into your heart. Have faith as a child. Trust with innocence, love with purity, walk in belief.
”O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving us and for allowing us to walk in newness of faith. Come now, Holy Spirit, help us walk according to your ways. Help us know that you are good and that you are God. I praise you Lord for your goodness and grace in my life. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen