63 Luke 18.15-17
Don’t Be Such a Baby
v Opening Illustration
I used to think that the gifts of God were on shelves one above the other, and the taller we grew in Christian, the more mature we became, the easier it would be to reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are indeed on shelves, but one beneath the other.
And that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, that we have to go down to get the more precious gifts. We must stoop in order to understand the deeper things of the Kingdom
v In essence, this what Jesus is teaching us today
Ø Here Jesus’ disciples are trying to do Jesus a favor in their eyes
§ Keeping the mob of mothers with their 1 year old babies away from Jesus
· For that was the custom in Jewish society of the first century
Ø The disciples were simply doing their best to…
§ Protect Jesus’ time
§ Protect Jesus’ energy
v But Jesus decides to use this situation to teach the all-important lesson about the Kingdom of God
§ Jesus has taught it in various ways
· That the way up is down
· That the least desired seat at the table is to be taken
· That to lead you must serve
· That the least shall be first
¨ And now…
Ø Christian Maturity is to be found in the character of a Child
v In other words…
Ø The best of the Kingdom is to be found on the lower shelves…
v In the parallel passage in Matt 18:3
Ø Jesus puts a little finer point on it when he says…
§ I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven
v What is it about children that caused Jesus to use them as examples of what we should be like?
v What Kingdom characteristics can we glean from infants?
v What are the crown jewels that are housed on the lower shelves?
v What is it about babies that makes them examples for the adults?
Ø Let’s go to the lower shelves of the Kingdom and find out…
1st Shelf Down
Ø Babies are not tied down to the world with the tethers that adults have
§ Infants are in the world, but not effected by the world’s desires
· Infants do not care what brand of stroller you buy
¨ We struggle with this, but they do not
· Infants do not measure their success by how many toys they have
· Infants do not compare themselves to other babies
· Infants do not judge other babies
· Infants do not have a self-righteous streak
· Infants do not try to “keep up with the Jones”
· Infants do not look to their jobs for purpose and meaning in life
· Infants do not
Ø Babies are in the world, but not of the world…YET
§ And that is how we are supposed to be, Right?
· We are to be like fish
¨ Fish swim around in salt water, but do not taste salty+
§ Babies are part of the world, but not effected by its pressures
· That is how we are to be as Christians
¨ In the world, but not of the world
2nd Shelf Down
v Unreserved Forgiveness
Ø One of the things that has amazed me about being a parent is how readily my children forgive me
§ We have all had to discipline our children at one time or another
· Yet no matter what we do or say
¨ Our children always forgive
Ø How do I know that?
§ Young children simply do not hold grudges
· Their behavior is dictated by past events
A man who was telling his friend about an argument he'd had with his wife commented, "Oh, how I hate it, every time we have an argument; she gets historical"
The friend replied, "You mean hysterical."
"No," he insisted. "I mean historical. Every time we argue she drags up everything from the past and holds it against meTrue forgiveness is not allowing the past events to impinge on your current relationship
§ You see…
· Forgiveness is all about relationship
· Matt 6:14-15
¨ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Even lower on the 3rd Shelf down…
v Complete trust
Ø There is no better picture
If we stoop lower yet on the 4th Shelf down we find…
v Utter Dependence
Ø An infant has no illusion that they can provide for themselves
Ø They have no pride that they can be make it on their own
Ø They do not fool themselves into the frame of mind of self-sufficiency
§ They look to their parents for everything
· An infant is utterly dependent on their mother and father for everything
A young woman brings home her fiance, to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out more about the young man. The father invites the fiance, into his study. "So what are your plans?" the father asks the young man.
"I am a Bible scholar," he replies.
"A Bible scholar. Hmm," the father says. "Admirable, but what will you
do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in as she's accustomed to?"
"I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us." "And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring such as she deserves?" asks the father.
"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies, "and God
will provide for us."
"And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?" "Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiance.
The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insists that God will provide. Later the mother asks, "How did it go, honey?"
The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I'm God."
Ø This obviously is a humorous exaggeration
§ But the young man’s answers are actually Biblical
· We have to realize that kind of utter dependence on God in our lives
¨ Jesus taught this type of dependence in the sermon on the mount
Ø Matt 6:26
§ Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?... See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Ø Our problem is that we come to depend more on ourselves than we do on God
§ We become doubtful
· Can God actually provide?
§ We become cynical
· Does God truly provide?
§ We become proud
· Is it god or me that actually provides?
¨ And that all leads to us becoming…
v You see…
Ø We have to become more child-like in this…
§ We have to stoop lower and become…
· Utterly Dependent on Yahweh
§ But we have to know that ultimately it is the Lord who provides
· Ps 104:27-28
¨ These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things
On the lowest Shelf we find
v Absolute Helplessness
Ø This is the lowest shelf
Ø This is where you stoop the lowest
§ And this lowest shelf is actually the entry point to the Kingdom of God
v When Avonlea was born is when I realized how absolutely helpless infants are
Ø They are dependent on their parents for everything
§ For food
§ For clothing
§ For nourishment
Ø They are helpless to defend themselves against anything
§ They do not know enough
§ They do not have enough skill
§ They do not have enough strength
§ To survive
· They are helpless and dependent on their earthly mother and father for life itself!
¨ And Jesus says that is the place we have to come to to inherit eternal life
§ An understanding that we are helpless to save ourselves
v The great hymn writer Horatius Bonar wrote…
Not what these hands have done
Can save this guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh has borne,
Can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do,
Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers, or sighs, or tears,
Can ease my awful load.
Thy work alone, my Saviour,
Can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,
Can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God,
Not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest,
And set my spirit free.
No other work save Thine,
No meaner blood will do;
No strength save that which is divine,
Can bear me safely through.
Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone, O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.
I bless the Christ of God,
I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart
I call the Saviour mine.
(Not What my hands have Done)
v Infant-like Helplessness
Ø That is what Jesus wants us to understand
§ To enter the Kingdom of God takes HUMILITY
· One needs to realize their helplessness
v I believe to a great degree we have lost this perspective
Ø You can see this in the way we speak of salvation
§ When we speak of it we say…
· “I accepted Christ”
· “I said the sinners prayer”
¨ As if salvation were a work that we accomplished!
§ We say things like…
· “I led so-and-so to Christ”
§ We look to those scales of works again and again
Ø You see…
§ Jesus wants us to become like an infants in our approach to salvation
· Realizing our helplessness
¨ Nothing in our hands we bring
¨ Simply to the cross I cling
¨ Naked, come to Thee for dress;
¨ Helpless look to Thee for grace;
v Those are the words penned by Augustus Toplady one day when he was caught in a violent thunderstorm
Ø Being nowhere near home, he ran for cover into a crevice within a huge limestone rock
§ And as he waited out the storm he put pen to paper
· And explained what Jesus taught his disciples here…
¨ Come to Christ realizing your helpless condition
Ø And cling to that “Rock of Ages”
v So as we sing this hymn
Ø Read and understand the truth that Toplady is conveying to us…
§ That we, like infants, are helpless to save ourselves
§ And that it is only by clinging naked to Christ’s completed work on the cross that enter in to the Kingdom of God
Ø In chapter 17, Jesus taught us about his Kingdom
§ He told us to be aware of its coming
§ He told us to be wise and ready for it’s coming
§ And he even warned us of it’s coming
Ø Several weeks ago we talked about the Kingdom of God
§ God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule
v Here we see a scene that is not unusual
Ø Parents bringing children to a Rabbi for a blessing
§ This was a practice in Jewish society at the time
· When the child was 1 year old
v Jesus’ acceptance
Ø Not turning away the children
§ Christianity is not exclusive
§ Open to all
· Look at who Jesus accepted…
¨ Bleeding woman
¨ Woman at well
¨ Zacchaeus the tax collector
¨ Roman Centurion
§ The Kingdom of God is not always made up of the people that the world would choose
· But those God has chosen
¨ You can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family!
§ Titus 3:4-5
· But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy
§ Rom 4:5
· However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness