Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.
The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.
Mark 10:13-16, A Lesson on the People of God’s Kingdom:
- You’ll do well to remember that the focus of Jesus’ ministry has been more private with the disciples, as He makes His way to the cross. Jesus is preparing them for the ministry of the church, after His ascension.
- And so we’ve seen Him teach them on the power of faith, on the virtue of humility, on discipleship, on marriage, and now – a lesson of the people of God’s Kingdom.
- In our text, we see three characteristics of the people of God’s kingdom; they are like children in nature, they have child-like faith, and are blessed as God’s own children.
- Now, here’s a note, while this passage speaks of Jesus’ attitude to children, especially in its concluding verse, its role in this context is primarily to illustrate the failure of the disciples to see things as Jesus sees them. The story is told from the point of view of their attitude and Jesus’ rebuke of it, and the key saying in verse 15 uses children as an illustration of discipleship rather than focusing on the children in themselves.
- I say this, as many have advocated that this passage teaches for infant baptism, and some stress that this passage teaches on children’s position in heaven. However, the text does not teach such. Therefore, we’ll be dealing with the framework I mentioned earlier.
- As we move ahead, you might have noticed that the modern West regards tenderness to children as a virtue, but only as it suits your agenda. Today we have relief organizations that appeal for support by showing little lives disfigured by hunger and war. Politicians try to secure votes by holding and kissing babies.
- But, the Ancient Jewish society did not regard children with the same affection. Children, like women, received their position in society primarily from their relationship to adult males, husbands / fathers.
- Therefore, sons were regarded as a blessing from God, but largely because they insured the continuance of the family name for another generation—and increased its workforce.
- But before then, the supposed burden of childhood was regarded as an unavoidable period between birth and adulthood. Yet, when a child reached the age of 13, they were considered adults, and could be married off, or learn the trade and enter the work force.
- But as we come to our passage, we see Jesus show sympathy, by ministering to them & welcoming them. Jesus also uses this opportunity to teach the disciples about the people of His kingdom, so let’s get into the three characteristics of the people of God’s kingdom;
- They are like children in nature:
- Text – 10:13-14
- Explanation – If we go back to the lesson on humility, in 9:36-37 the child was introduced by Jesus to illustrate the issue of status in the kingdom of God, and the specific issue raised was that of ‘receiving’ such a child in Jesus’ name.
- But here, we see the parents bring their children to Jesus. And this time the lesson to the disciples is not in terms of receiving the children, but in terms of receiving the kingdom of God as little children.
- Therefore, the text begins with a tender scene, the parents “were bringing children to him that he might touch them” (v13). Presumably, parents were bringing their children for a “touch” from Jesus. Interestingly, it was a custom of bringing children to rabbis for blessing and prayer on the Day of Atonement.
- Illustration – And as we have seen throughout Mark, the touch of Jesus results in great blessing. Therefore, these parents insightfully brought their children to Jesus for his blessing in their lives. Those who brought their children to Jesus believed that his touch could help their child. And they were willing to face the hostility of Pharisees as well as the haughtiness of disciples to secure this touch.
- Application – But look at how Jesus responds, v14. This is the only time Mark uses indignant. The word for “indignant” means “to arouse to anger,” that is, to vent oneself in expressed displeasure rather than simply brooding about it.
- The object of a person’s indignation reveals a great deal about that person. And so Jesus’ displeasure reveals his compassion and defense of the helpless, vulnerable, and powerless. He says “‘let the little children come to me … for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
- Conclusion – That is what characterises the people of God’s kingdom. We are considered helpless, vulnerable and powerless children who need guidance, protection, and provision. This reveals our true nature and feeble state.
- However, it is to the insignificant ones, if I may call us as such, who are important to Jesus and to whom God’s kingdom belongs. The literal children who are brought to Jesus symbolize God’s true children, and the disciples need to grasp this reality.
- Bridge – those who are helpless, vulnerable and powerless – yet belong to the Lord, aren’t placed in a certain age category. We are young, we are old, and we are in between the two. But we all are in need of Jesus our Saviour, as these little ones were in need of their parents provision, protection, and care.
- So in summary, the people of God’s Kingdom are like children in nature; helpless, vulnerable and powerless – who are in need of guidance, protection, and provision.
The have Child-like Faith:
- Text – 10:15
- Explanation – Here we have a warning against failing to enter the kingdom of God. Why the specific reference to children? Well, children—particularly little children—are often praised for their innocence, impulsiveness, and humility.
- But this is not the reason why Jesus blesses the children. The emphasis is on the children themselves rather than on their virtues. Luke 18:15 says they are, “babies.” They have nothing to offer in virtue, they are helpless. And if we assume that Jesus commends children because of their innocence or purity, then we must conclude that the disciples’ acceptability in God’s kingdom depends on similar virtues.
- Illustration – instead, the children are not blessed for their virtues but for what they lack: they come only as they are—small, powerless, without sophistication, as the overlooked and dispossessed of society. A little child has absolutely nothing to bring, and whatever a child receives, he or she receives by grace on the basis of absolute neediness rather than by any merit inherent in him- or herself.
- Application – Therefore, the people of God’s kingdom receive the kingdom of God as a child is to receive it – as one who has no credits, no power, and no claims. Sure, no one is innocent and instead of being eager, we can be slow, disbelieving, and cowardly.
- Therefore, to ‘receive the kingdom of God’ means to be God’s willing subject, gladly embracing the radical values which Jesus has come to teach. And the nature of that reception is to receive it as children do.
- Conclusion – However, there is a problem in our story. The disciples were unable to appreciate the significance of children in relation to the kingdom of God because they themselves have not yet learned to ‘receive’ it like children. Their ‘grown-up’ sense of values prevents them from being in tune with God’s value scale.
- The Jewish culture advocates for personal holiness, righteousness by works, and receiving favour through regular sacrifices. But Jesus shows us that the people of God’s Kingdom enter through faith, child-like faith – a kind of faith that is reliant of the Lord alone.
- Bridge – So to summarize the second characteristic, the people of God’s kingdom are those who are drawn near and trust in the Lord with child-like faith. To come open, trusting, dependent, weak, and humbly. Now we move on to the final characteristic in our text…
- They are Blessed as God’s own Children:
- Text – 10:16
- Explanation – Here we see Jesus fulfil what the children’s parents wanted, their children receive a blessing from Him as He lays His hands on them. And the amazing thing is, the significance in the laying on of hands was a natural sign of association, used often in healing, but also as a traditional symbol of blessing. And this is the third characteristic of God’s people!
- Illustration – But this raises the following question, “What exactly did people hope to receive from the touch and blessing of Jesus?” Well, the ritual of blessings was well known in Israel. Noah blessed Shem and Japheth (Gen 9:26–27), Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau (Gen 27; 28:1–4), and Jacob blessed his sons and grandsons (Genesis 48–49). But such blessings referred to handing over one’s inheritance.
- Application – Yet, in His healing of the sick and aid of the needy, Jesus laid hands on more common people and more frequently than the Jewish society did in general. His touch brought blessings, but it was also a blessing, a tangible expression of God’s unconditional love for the unclean, foreigners, women, and children. Therefore, Jesus’ personal touch of common people became a distinguishing mark of His bearing and ministry.
- Conclusion – And this too, is what characterizes the people of God’s kingdom. We too have been blessed by Christ in His work of redemption. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
- Bridge – That is our ultimate blessing from Christ, and this enables our entrance into the kingdom, and our enablement to become God’s children.
- So in summary, the people of God’s kingdom those who know they are weak and vulnerable without Christ, who trust solely in Him, and who have been given His righteousness!
- Friends, the kingdom is both a gift to be received and a realm to enter, have you received and entered? How can you receive and enter the kingdom? By the loving action of Jesus. Jesus opened his arms to these children in order to bless them. He took them in his arms. He gave assurance to parents that “of such is the kingdom of God.”
- He did that for all who will be like a little child, helplessly depending on him, and him alone, for salvation from the wrath of God and for forgiveness and reconciliation. Let us rest in the truth of God’s promise to His people! But for those who aren’t His own, come now as a child – trusiting in Him alone!