Mark 9:36-37; 10:13-16
I’ve been looking forward to this day. In a few minutes we’re going to have a baby dedication. Before we talk about this, let me just say we’re doing this, primarily, for three reasons:
- First, this is an opportunity for the parents of these four children to publicly proclaim their intention - to love and raise their children in a way that would honor God and point their children to Jesus as their only hope and purpose.
- Second, as a fellowship, we would like to dedicate ourselves to praying for and serving, not only these children, but the parents as they strive to raise their children as they should.
- And third, we would like to thank God for his gift of life and for entrusting us with these beautiful children.
God’s gift of children is absolutely cosmic in design. While they are cute and lovable and precious beyond words, they are also at the heart of God’s plan. In Genesis 1 we read this:
Genesis 1:27-28 (NIV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…”
We studied this a couple of months ago and saw that when we read God created male and female “in his own image”, it was probably referring to “representation” – like a king’s ambassador would represent the king or “image” the king in all he did. Paul uses this same line of thinking when he writes to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
God’s design for humanity is that we be his representation, his image-bearers, his ambassadors. Then in this Genesis passage God said be fruitful and increase in number. It’s pretty clear that God’s desire is that the earth is filled with his image-bearers – those who represent him. Raising children to be God-imagers is God’s call to all parents.
Just to be clear here, the call of God to create image-bearers is not only a call to those with children - this is the call to all those who are born again. We are all called to share Christ with, show Christ to, and pray for those around us; trusting that the Holy Spirit will compel others to trust Jesus as their savior and so become image-bearers.
Lets quickly look at a few verses in Mark where can see Jesus connect with children. It’s important to know that these verses come while the disciples are debating who might be the greatest or most important in the kingdom of God.
Mark 9:36-37; 10:13-16 (NIV)
[Jesus] took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 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.”
This is really an amazing statement – especially in the culture 2,000 years ago (and today as well). This statement actually moves the “spotlight” from those who considered themselves to be the great religious teachers of the day, to those who are committed to true service – like caring for and teaching children. The way we see and deal with children is vital, and those who care for children in the name of Jesus have a very close connection to the sovereign God of the universe. Parents/fellowship – caring for children, in the name of Jesus, is a high calling. Working for the Kingdom with a servant's heart is a God thing.
Vs 13-16) - People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant (strongly perturbed). He said to them, “Let (start allowing) the little children come to me, and do not hinder (stop stopping) them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
When Jesus demanded that the disciples start allowing the children to come to him, he was not only using a child’s childlike faith as a teaching tool, which he did (vs15), he was very serious about ministering to children. Children easily accept and receive the things of God – their young lives are all about faith. I remember having wonderful, faith-filled conversations with may children where I was amazed at the way they simply believed Scripture to be true. It is vital that we minister effectively to them as they are formulating their worldview. Caring for children, in the name of Jesus, is a high calling.
So, this morning, if you are not trusting in Jesus alone as the One who can forgive your sin and give you right standing before God, we would invite you to do that – come to Jesus, confess your sin, trust him.
As we move into the dedication I’d like to briefly explain why we don’t baptize infants but instead dedicated them to God. Based on our understanding of Scripture, we see baptism as an act of obedience for the one who is trusting Jesus as savior – it’s a public declaration of commitment to Jesus. It is, in public, saying, “I am not ashamed of Jesus.” So, the more people that can observe this, the better. Baptism is very important because Jesus asked his followers to do it. It’s the embodiment of Matthew 10:32 where Jesus says,
Matthew 10:32 (NIV)
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”
While some may understand baptism as a mechanism that can impart or direct God’s kindness, we understand baptism to be the result of God’s kindness.
There are a number of examples of parents dedicating their children to God. Hannah, the mother of Samuel the prophet:
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord (Luke 2)
1 Samuel 1:26-28 (NIV)
and [Hannah] said to [Eli the priest], “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord [for a son]. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”