“and they were bringing children to him that he might touch them…” v. 13
“hey dad!” my then, four year old son, John, said one morning, “I had a dream last night about bread.” –When I was four my dreams centered more around things like monsters and space people threatening to take me away, or worse, play with my toys. –But on this day John was having dreams about bread. I was curious, so I asked him to tell me about it. He explained, “People were honoring bread…” I didn’t even know he knew words like “honoring”, yay home school! Anyway, he went on. “People all over the world were honoring bread. There were crowds cheering for it, and a big plane carrying a sign about it, and it was on TV. Everyone was loving it. But when the children wanted some, the adults got mad and wouldn’t let them have any….” That’s where the dream stopped. They loved celebrating the bread, but weren’t willing to share it with the children who were seeking it. Wow. Let that settle for a minute. Turn it over in the oven and let it cook. Sounds an awful lot like the scripture today. Sounds an awful lot like life, if we aren’t careful.
The disciples thought they were helping Jesus out. People were bringing their little children to the living bread, so he could bless them. The disciples saw a nuisance and tried to stop it, so Jesus could do the serious adult work of the kingdom. What they would soon learn was the opposite. Jesus responded to their misguided zeal with these words.
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
Not only were the children welcome into the kingdom, Jesus went on to make them the heroes of the kingdom.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom like a child shall not enter it.”
So in one afternoon children went from nuisance to nobility. They were elevated from problems to prophets. Jesus promoted them from the mailroom to the executive suite.
While we spend our time telling children they have to become adults before they can enter the kingdom, Jesus is telling us just the opposite. Adults have to become children before they can enter the kingdom.
It saddens me to see the way we honor bread but keep it from the children. How do we do it? We do it by spiritual neglect.
– In our schools we encourage them to learn about everything and everyone…except Jesus.
– In our homes we train them to run all sorts of technology by the age of eight, and play every sport available, but not how to read the Bible and pray. They know more about how to win on X-box, playing “call of duty” than their duty to the call of Christ.
– We want them to make the grades, pass the tests, win the ball games and wear the pageant crown. We will cross land and sea to make it happen because we love them. But we don’t teach them to grow in faith, win the race, and run for the forever crown.
– We work tirelessly to prepare for our own retirement, juggling our 401K’s to prepare for the future. But when it comes to the spiritual condition of our children in the future, we just hope it works out. Something is terribly wrong when we believe for ourselves but don’t pass the bread on to our children.
How long before we see the connection between lack of spiritual nurture and the increase on depressed, anxious and angry young people coming along?
Our Lord shows us today that the well being of children is high on his priority list. When I think of all the crimes against children, slave trade, abuse, abandonment, and simple neglect my heart is broken. No doubt yours is too. But the greatest neglect is the neglect of the soul. You can give your child all the affirmation, protection, and opportunity in the world, but if you don’t teach them about the savior all your efforts will ultimately come to nothing. Your child needs more than a scholarship to college, they need a relationship with God. The best way to honor the bread is to give it away, especially to the heroes of the kingdom.
Yesterday my college freshman son came up to me before church and said, “Dad I’ve been thinking about theology.” We had a great discussion on some of his emerging beliefs and how they are shaping his life. Glad to see that he’s still dreaming about bread.