The Lord's Big Lessons from Little Children
The Lord's Big Lessons from Little Children
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 22, 2016
*Well, it's now only 18 days until our first grandbaby is due, and I've been thinking about how much babies have to learn. Parents have to teach their children so much: How to walk and talk, how to eat and be potty trained, how to wash-up and get dressed, how to act right, be unselfish and get along with other people. Most of all, parents need to teach their children about the Bible, the ways of God, and the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*But children also have a lot to teach us. For one example: They help us see how much trouble it must have been to raise us. Of course, some of us were a whole lot more trouble than others. And I was one of those.
*Children also help us see what really matters in life, and many young couples found their way back to church, when their children came along. God has a whole lot more to teach us from children. And in today's Scripture, the Lord uses children to teach us the biggest lessons of all.
1. First: Jesus wants us to humble our hearts.
*This is the Lord's lesson for us in vs. 1-4:
1. At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?''
2. And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3. and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
*Jesus wants us to humble our hearts, and He uses a little child to help us do it. Unfortunately, we don't get instantly cured of sinful arrogance and ambition when we get saved. Staying close to Jesus doesn't necessarily cure us either.
*So here, the Lord's closest followers were arguing about which of them was greatest. And this wasn't the only time. The Bible shows them having the same kind of argument at least four different times. In Luke 22, they were still arguing about this only hours before Jesus died on the cross.
*Well, the Lord doesn't want us sitting around arguing about who's the greatest. Jesus wants to help us humble our hearts, so He used a little child to give us the guidance we need. That makes sense, because although little children can be selfish, and they can certainly lose their temper. They really don't have a lot to be arrogant about.
*You'll never hear a baby bragging about keeping his diaper dry the longest, or a 2-year-old bragging about being the greatest kid in the nursery. Little children tend to be humble, especially around a group of adults. And Jesus is saying that we need to be humble, because we are always in the presence of God.
*Now this lesson of humility is very important to the Lord, so He stresses it many places in His Word. For example, James 4:5-10 asks Christians:
5. . . Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously''?
6. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''
7. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
2. Jesus wants us to humble our hearts. -- He also wants us to serve our Savior.
*The Lord wants us to serve Him as our Savior, and doing what we can to take care of children is one of the most important ways to serve the Lord. In vs. 5, Jesus shows His followers how much He wants us to care for children. And the Lord said: "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."
*Jesus wants us to "receive" little children, and it helps to know the word picture in the original language. It's the picture of taking little children by the hand, or holding them up, or taking them in as part of our family and friends. And this part of our service is so important to Jesus that He said whenever we receive even one child in His name, then in a way, we are also receiving Him!
*Children are extremely important to the Lord. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus promised: "Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
*There are many ways we can give that cup of cold water today: Sunday School, the Children's Choir, the Nursery, Children's Church, and Orange. Also, Vacation Bible School. It starts 3 weeks from today. Upward Football is coming back soon. Plus Operation Christmas Child in the fall, and more.
*There are many ways we can give that cup of cold water today. Our goal is to reach dozens, even hundreds of children for the Lord Jesus Christ. Receiving them in Jesus' name, and seeing the wonderful difference that God can make in their lives.
3. Jesus wants us to serve our Savior. -- He also wants us to know the danger of disobeying God.
*Jesus Christ wants everybody to know the terrible danger of disobeying God. And in today's Scripture, the Lord focused on the awful sin of leading children astray. In vs. 5-6, Jesus said:
5. . . Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
*Today in our country there are millions of parents, teachers, politicians, and pop stars who are in greater danger than they can possibly imagine. They are provoking the wrath of Almighty God, because they are leading children away from Him. But everyone needs to know the danger of sin. We all need to know the great danger of our own sin. And the Lord wants us to know. So, He gives us two terrible comparisons.
 First, Jesus tells us that for us to sin is worse than losing our lives.
*Again in vs. 6, Jesus said: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
*Have you ever been held under water to the point you felt you were running out of air? Have you ever been knocked down by a wave at the beach, then knocked down again and again, before you could catch your breath? Have you ever fought the current until you thought you weren't going to make it to shore? Then you know the terrible feeling of running out of air; the panic you feel when you think you might drown. But Jesus said that drowning would be better than causing little children to sin.
 For us to sin is worse than losing our lives. -- And in vs. 7-9, it's worse than losing our limbs.
*Here Jesus said:
7. "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
8. And if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
9. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire."
*Of course, Jesus is not telling us to literally cut-off our hands or gouge out our eyes, although a few unstable people have gone to that extreme. And in some Islamic countries people do have their hands cut-off for stealing. That is a barbaric practice, and there is no biblical evidence that the Lord was telling us to literally do this.
*Cutting your hand off, cutting your foot off, or plucking out your eye wouldn't do any good anyway, because our real sin problem is not in our eyes or in our hands. It's in our hearts. All of our sin starts in our spiritual heart. There is no way we can get inside our souls to fix our sin problem, and what a terrible problem it is! Sin is so serious that it would be worth cutting off your hand if that would help. But that won't help. Jesus just wants us to know the danger of disobeying God.
*And it's not our hands that can save us. It's His Hands that were nailed to the cross for our sins. So we have to trust in Jesus Christ, and what He did on the cross for us. But we will never do that until we see the danger of disobeying God.
4. Jesus wants us to know the danger of disobeying God. -- He also wants us to know the amazing assistance we have in Heaven.
*There is amazing, miraculous help available for us in Heaven, and the Lord wants us to know that. So in vs. 10, Jesus used the example of the angels assigned to little children. And Jesus said: "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven."
*Here Jesus opens a window into Heaven for us, and we see an amazing thing. Little children, our little children have mighty angels assigned for their help and protection.
*Talk about friends in high places! But our children have an even better Friend in high places, and that is God Himself. Of course, God doesn't forget about us when we grow up! He is still watching over us, and He has amazing ways to help you and me.
5. Jesus wants us to know the amazing assistance we have in Heaven. -- He also wants us to see how to be saved.
*This is the most important thing of all: Jesus Christ wants us to see how to be saved. And starting back up in vs. 2, the Lord used a little child to help us see:
2. . . Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3. and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
*Why did Jesus call a child and set him in front of the disciples? -- Because this lesson was so important, that words were not enough. Jesus wanted to show them (and us) that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.
*So Jesus said we must be converted, and that's the idea of turning. In order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, we must be turned to think in a new way. We must be turned to think God's way. And God says, "Unless you become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
*But what does it mean to become like little children? Well, little children depend on their parents. Little children also love and trust their parents. So we must depend on God and trust Him the same way little children trust their parents.
*We must trust God, because He is bigger and stronger than we are. We must trust God, because He loves us, He wants to help us, lead us, and provide for us. We must trust God, because He wants to save us.
*And we can trust God! We can trust Him, because down in vs. 11 Jesus said, "The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost." And Jesus did come to save that which was lost.
*We can also trust Him, because down in vs. 12 Jesus asked, "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?" Yes, he does. And Jesus is the Good Shepherd searching for His lost sheep.
*When we were in Raleigh with Becky on Mother's Day we went to the Southbridge Fellowship Church. It's a church that has been meeting in a movie theater for the last ten years. And that was different, but kind of neat in a way. The people were very friendly. And the pastor preached about how Jesus is stronger than any storm we will ever face in life.
*His name is Scott Lehr, and during the sermon, he told us a little about the terrible storm they recently went through, a parent's worst nightmare. Their 10-year-old and 4-year-old daughters were playing in the front yard, when a man came by and grabbed their 4-year-old.
*The older daughter ran into the house screaming. They called 911, and Scott raced through the woods to try and catch the man. And Scott didn't give us the details. But thank God, in less than 24 hours that little girl was found and returned to her family safe and sound.
*Scott said it actually seemed to affect their older daughter more than the younger, and a few days after the trauma, the 10-year-old asked her daddy: "If we didn't find her so soon, how long would you have kept looking for her?" Scott reassured her by saying, "As long as there was any hope of finding her, I would have kept looking for her."
*Then he said to us, "How long would I have looked for her?" -- "Forever." That father's love is a taste of the love that God has for us. And Jesus is the Good Shepherd searching for the lost sheep. (1)
*The Good Shepherd was even willing to die for His sheep, and that is what Jesus did on the cross for us. Jesus was willing to take all of the punishment for all of our sins, -- your sins, my sins, everybody's sins! And we know this is true, because down in vs. 14, Jesus said, "Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
*It is not the Father's will that any of us should perish! Salvation then comes through childlike trust in God. Salvation comes through trusting in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead. Salvation comes through receiving Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, so that we are born again as a child of God.
*We can fully trust in Jesus for our salvation. And then we can trust Him to carry us through every storm we face in life. In Isaiah 46:3-4, the Lord put it like this:
3. "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb:
4. even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
*We can trust Jesus to carry us through our storms.
*Christians: Our confidence is not in our grip. It's in our Heavenly Father's grip. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is in God! And He will never let us fall. So put your trust in Jesus Christ. Then keep trusting in the Lord.
*Would you please bow for prayer.
(1) This story starts about 28:00 - Source: “Jesus is Stronger than the Storms” by Scott Lehr - Mark 4:34-41 - May 8, 2016 - http://southbridgefellowship.com/media/mark/