Thursday, November 5, 2009

Infants and the Kingdom of God

Luke 18:15-17 (NKJV)
15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

For the past couple Lord’s Days we have considered the lessons that infants teach us as the people of God. We have seen that infants, because of their intricate design, gloriously display the grandeur of God, overthrowing all the sophisms of the philosophers. We have also seen that infants, in their very hunger for milk, instruct us about the passion we all should have for the Word of God. Today we learn a final lesson taught by infants – infants display faith.

When a number of Jesus’ followers come bringing their infants to Jesus so that He can bless them, Jesus delivers a dual imperative to the disciples who are endeavoring to forbid this. “Let the little children come to Me,” He commands, “and do not forbid them.” Jesus gives both a positive command – let them come – and a negative injunction – do not forbid them. Notice that if we had only one of these imperatives, we could reason that Jesus thinks merely that these children should be tolerated, permitted to come into His presence. But the dual imperatives destroy such a supposition. He wants these children not merely tolerated but welcomed, ushered into His presence. Let the little children come unto Me.

Why? Why does Jesus deliver these exhortations? Why is He indignant with the disciples? Because, Jesus declares, “of such is the Kingdom of God.” Jesus declares in no uncertain terms that the children of believers are members of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a social club. It is not an adults only club. It is not even an adults primarily club in which children are, I guess, welcome to come along for the ride. Of such as these – infants brought into the presence of Jesus for blessing – is the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, in other words, is not a social club at all but a new humanity incorporating adults, children, young adults, seniors, infants, and even dead people joined together under the banner of the Messiah.

Now many interpret this phrase “of such as these” to mean “of disciples who are like these infants” is the kingdom of God, but this is not the point. After all, Jesus goes on to explain the lesson which infants teach us as the people of God – not infant disciples but actual infants. Why is it that infants are such integral members of the Kingdom of God? Because they teach us about faith, about trust, about dependence. They are wholly and completely dependent upon God, trusting Him to care for them through their parents. And if we do not learn this lesson from them, if we do not learn to trust our Heavenly Father in the same way and so become their disciples in this, then we will by no means enter into the Kingdom of God.

Listen to the words of David in Psalm 22:9-10:
But You [O My God] are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust
while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My
mother’s womb You have been My God.
Infants have something to teach us. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, they declare, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Let us kneel together and confess that we have failed to learn this lesson from the infants around us.