Children are wonderful. They are in the process of discovering the world. It is all new to them and they are seeing the world with fresh and innocent eyes. And because of that they have so much to teach us if we only take time to listen and to try to see the world through their eyes.
Way back to when I was a young person it was Art Linkletter who had the television program called, “Kids Say the Darnest Things.” I remember Mom having a book by that name that shared many of the conversations Mr. Linkletter had with kids on his program.
I enjoy the cartoon “Family Circle” as it shares the habits and perceptions of children.
Recently Steve Harvey hosted the program entitled “Little Big Shots” that interviewed children and allowed them to share their special talents.
One of my favorite Comic Strips in the Springfield News Leader is entitled “Baby Blues.” And my favorite character is the little boy named “Hammie.” In Wednesday’s edition the mother took what she thought was a platter of cookies to a new neighbor, but when the neighbor uncovered it there was an old tennis shoe and an IOU note. The last scene shows the mother yelling “Hammie!” I think the reason I enjoy that cartoon so much is because Hammie reminds me so much of my grandson Isaac!
When I am at a store waiting in the checkout line behind a mother with her young children. I often just stand and smile as the children are pulling at Mom or pulling away from Mom, or crying because they want something that she won’t let them get. I understand how frustrated the mother often is, but I’m thinking, ”I remember when my kids were that small and doing the same things.”
One of my favorite memories is the time when Jenna was about 6 or 7 years old and we were in the checkout line at WalMart and Jenna turns to the person behind us and yells , “You are stepping on my friend!”—referring to her imaginary friend that only she could see! Or the time when Justin was probably only 2 years old and we had gotten him some cowboy boots and he wore them to church. He knew boots were made for stomping and he stomped on Pat Henry’s bad foot. I took those boots off him and I really don’t remember him ever wearing boots again!
When we first came to Branson, Jenna was only 3 years old. I remember her wanting to go to the hospital with me so she could ride the “Alligators” (Elevators).
I could go on and on with the stories as I am sure most of you could about your experience with children.
But then we come to our Scripture passage today and see that Jesus wants to teach us something by using a child as an example.
Let’s look at this passage in a little more detail.
I. THE MIND OF CHRIST
a. Notice that this passage begins with Jesus prophesying about being turned over to those who would put Him to death. His perspective—indeed, His Mission—was to come into the world so that He could go to the Cross and become the eternal supreme atoning sacrifice. That mission was occupying His thoughts. He knew that He would have to suffer, that many would reject Him and would eventually have Him executed. And He knew He had to prepare His disciples for what was coming. But Luke 9: 45 says “But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.”
b. In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
c. As I read these verses and think about what Jesus was trying to tell His disciples, I realize that God has an eternal plan in mind—a plan for our redemption and salvation—a plan to deliver us from sin’s control on our lives and to reconcile us with the family of God. And, like the disciples in this passage, our minds are dull and we do not grasp the truth God is trying to give us. Our small human minds are distracted and cluttered with the cares of this world.
d. Paul in Philippians 2: 5 wrote, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” I like the King James translation of this verse, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
e. In our Scripture passage, Jesus had his mind on the Cross—but the disciples were somewhere else entirely in their thinking.
f. I’m thinking that we as Christ’s current disciples need to spend a lot of time seeking the mind of Christ instead of wallowing in the mind of mankind!
II. THE MIND OF THE DISCIPLES
a. What a contrast we see in verse 46. In verse 44 we see Jesus has His mind on the Cross. But in verse 46 we see the disciples have their minds on position and power.”Who’s the greatest.” It was that question that would later prompt James’ and John’s mother to ask Jesus to grant her sons favorite positions in His coming Kingdom—one on His right hand and one on His left hand. I can only imagine how this argument was going. Andrew thought he was the greatest because he had brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus.
Bartholomew, (or Nathaniel as he was also known), probably was a little older and considered himself a little wiser than the others. Judas Iscariot knew that he was important—after all he was one of the Zealots who actively opposed the Romans and Jesus thought enough of him to make him the treasurer of this group. And, of course, humble Peter put in his opinion—wasn’t it obvious that he was most important—Jesus had renamed him Peter—“The Rock.” And so they argued much like little children. It was the adult version of the game we used to play when I was a boy—King of the Mountain.
b. These disciples were so full of themselves that they didn’t have a clue as to what was really important. Jesus was thinking of His approaching death. Their thoughts were prompted by selfish pride.
c. But are we different? We worry about what time the preaching will quit and how soon we can get to the restaurant to eat lunch—hopefully before the rush. Or we fret over what we will wear or what others may think or how we can get a promotion at work or get a raise in our retirement funds.
d. But remember what Jesus said when He was giving the ethical foundation for Christianity in what we call the Sermon on the Mount?
In Matthew 6: 25-34 Jesus said,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 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—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
e. May we learn a lesson from this passage—a lesson on focusing on the truly important, the eternal things, rather than allowing ourselves to bicker over the temporary and truly unimportant things in the temporal realm!
III. THE MIND OF A CHILD
a. After observing the childish behavior of the disciples, Jesus used the incident to teach them about true discipleship. In verses 47 & 48 we read, “ Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
b. Understand that Jesus was not telling them to be childish—they were already behaving that way. He was teaching them about being “Child-like.” And there is a big difference between those words Child-likeness speaks of trusting our Heavenly Father, of depending upon Him to take care of us. It is about learning to share, about seeing the wonder of God’s creation, about believing that He is altogether powerful and just, and that His grace is truly sufficient. It is about “Casting all our cares upon HIm because He cares for us.”
It is about knowing that our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of even before we ask. It is about believing He will take care of us. It is about obeying God’s command just as a child learns to obey his parent. It is all that is good and pure and innocent and right in childhood.
c. As we mature, we so often forget the wonder of life itself. We tend to focus on survival and security. Jesus wants us to focus on Loving God. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” How easy it is to put other priorities ahead of that!
I want to think His thoughts and not be bogged down with the trivial.
I want to see His love and compassion reaching out to a needy world and not get hung up on me and mine.
I want trust Him completely and somehow stop doubting that He will do the impossible for me.
I want to love like He loves and see those around me who desperately need to be loved.
I want to have a pure heart like that of Christ and not have the scars and grime of sin coloring my life.
I want to be like Jesus! Don’t you?