Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“Love the Children!” (Matthew 18:1-4)

S-1449 13SAP/3A 9/07/2014 Hymns: (O) #593; (S) #594; (C) #744 LSB

Texts: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 18:1-20

Theme: “Love the Children!” (Matthew 18:1-4)

Question: “How do you show love to children?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-4).

Precious children of the heavenly Father, a long time ago I heard this statement: “Children are to be seen but not heard.” How sad that statement is. This is not what Jesus said and taught in the text before us. On the contrary, He emphasizes the fact that we can be taught by children’s examples to be humble and trusting of our heavenly Father.  He teaches us to have the heart of a child and to know how much children are valued and loved by Him. Therefore, as we welcome a little child, as we show love to a child, we are indeed welcoming the One who loves the little children—all of them, Jesus Himself. 

In this text, the disciples ask a very important question. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” That question is still being asked today: “Who is the greatest basketball, football, baseball, soccer player in the world. Who is the greatest golfer, Tennis player, car racer, swimmer or sharp shooter in the world? This is what the world is concerned with—looking to themselves for glory and power.

But again, this is not what this text is about. This text digs deeper than what you see on the surface. It demonstrates through the teaching example of Jesus taking a child into His bosom, how much children trust those who love them and care for their needs. This text shows us how highly the Lord God Almighty cherishes children and loves them. By taking the child into His bosom, He foretells His heart’s desire to hold in His loving and pierced arms every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve.

Oh, that we would learn to love the children and care for them as Jesus cared for His children and still does. Oh, that we would pour into their hearts the love that will carry them as they travel through this journey we call life. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, in ancient days children were not valued as Christians value them today. In many cultures they were sacrificed to the make-believe gods of pagans. We think of the god in the OT called Molech. Jesus commanded Moses to tell God’s people to have nothing to do with this false god.

In the days of Jesus often children, especially if they were baby girls were thrown into the streets to die. In Rome this was a common practice where sons were esteemed but women were considered property. It is the same today in the Arab world and these girls are sold to the highest bidder.

Today, all across this land and the world, children are sold into sexual slavery or their parts are harvested by wicked people who have lost all sense of right and wrong. Add to that the many children who are being sacrificed on the altar of the pagan god of choice through abortion.

Even though we may not do these wicked and horrific things, or sacrifice our children through abortion or sell them into slavery; in our own way, we don’t love them like we should. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that you don’t love your child[ren] but we don’t love them in the right away and we don’t teach them of the love of Jesus and His everlasting truth that leads to eternal life.

I know we do love our children. I have seen you show love to your children. But loving children is not sitting them in front of the TV, giving them a video game, cash, or letting them loose. Loving the children is so much more than what the world offers. To love the children is to be a godly parent to them. It is NOT only protecting them from harm, providing shelter or giving them food to eat or closing to wear; it is feeding their souls with the heavenly manna as they sit at the feet of Jesus to hear His Word and receive His blessings daily, weekly and yearly.

To love the children is to be a responsible parent who will in word and deed show them the way to church—to spend time in His Word, on your knees and in His presence. To love the children is teaching them that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.

The biggest damage we do for children is when we lie about our relationship to and with God. We often stand here as these folks have done this morning around the baptismal font and promise to bring them up in the fear and admonition of God. But as soon as the service is over, many children don’t enter His house and they grow up without any spiritual food and they are dying on the inside. How tragic that is. Someday all of us parents will have to stand before the judge eternal and will have to answer to our negligence. PAUSE.

Today, by the grace of God you have come to His house to hear His Word. Today, through the Spirit working through the Word you have heard of the Love of Jesus who picks up a child and puts Him in His bosom to show in what manner He loves them to the end.

After all, is this not why Jesus became a little child that He might be not just an example but in fact the Savior of the world? So that all who place their trust in Him might be saved. Jesus died for all the children of the world—all of them—including you and me. Jesus the once child of Bethlehem gives to infants a miracle—Holy Baptism whereby our all powerful, all loving Lord, grants great gospel gifts. God so loved the world—implies that He has a way to save little children. And He does it through the majestic gift of Baptism as you witnessed today not only one miracle—but three—Anna Sue, Rylee Grace and Audrey Marie became children of Him who loves the children—Jesus the Christ.

Beloved in the Lord, we are all God’s children whether we are 10 days old or a hundred years old. It doesn’t make any difference. In the sight of God we all become His children and receive His Amazing Grace and Love. Know this truth and hold it dear, God has no grandchildren—only children (here point out to the congregation). PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, “During the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb.  In the front yard, was a shell hole.  Seeking shelter as soon as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow.

Terrified, yet hearing his father’s voice telling him to jump, the boy replied; “I can’t see you!” The father, looking up against the sky, tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son; “But, I can see you…Jump!”

The boy jumped, because he trusted his father. Likewise, the Christian faith enables you to face life, or meet death; not because you can see—but with the certainty of knowing you are seen by the One who made the eye and looks after us in all situations. The prophet Isaiah wrote “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).

In Jesus Christ, fear is out, and His peace is in….Jesus saidPeace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Because of the love and kindness of Jesus—demonstrated on the hewn tree of the cross, we all have become His children. As such we enjoy all of the riches of God’s Kingdom—pardon for sins, peace with God, promise of eternal life and faith to make us strong.

In the world’s eyes children are nothing, but in God’s eyes we are part and parcel of His Kingdom—that has no end. Our God in His grace through the Child Jesus our Savior has made us His beloved and precious children forever. Now that is loving the children. Thanks be to God for His love to us—His CHILDREN. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


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