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Are Babies EVER an Inconvenience? Mt 19

05/04/2019

The Value of Children (Born and Unborn)

Text.  Matthew 19:13-15

What value do we place on tiny human life?  

– The Jews of Jesus’ day had respect for the unborn and the newly born child, unlike the pagan nations that surrounded them.  The penalty under the law of Moses for infanticide was death. Leviticus 20:2 Needless to say the Israelites were disobedient.  Jeremiah 32:34-36   The penalty for the death of unborn children was just as severe.  Exodus 21:22-24  

– In Greek and Roman society, a much more ‘cultured and civilised place to be’ the murder of newly born children was considered barbaric and uncivilised, so a child would be exposed on a hillside or open place; it wasn’t considered murder, because who knew whether a passing stranger, or even a god might come along and adopt the child.  The reality was that the baby would die of dehydration, or be eaten alive by animals.

– Our modern society has greatly conflicting attitudes about children.  On the one hand we over-indulge our children. They are treated like little princes and princesses, yet on the other hand, life often seems cheap when it is still in the womb. According to the World Health Organisation, there are between 40 to 50 MILLION abortions every year.  The majority of those abortions are not for babies with no life expectancy, or for the health of the mother, but because having a baby is INCONVENIENT.  People want to sin without consequence for themselves.  The human right to have unrestricted sex on demand outweighs the right to life of the babies that inevitably result from that behaviour.  

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Expecting a Baby

A Christian Worldview would suggest that life is a journey with many phases, which begins at conception and ends, physically speaking at death.   Psalm 139:13  Jeremiah 1:4–5  Psalm 51:5  Luke 1:39-44   And that makes us ask whether the unborn children are of less worth than the children who have been born? Not according to God our Creator, who instigated life in the beginning and who knows what is best for us.   

Let’s explore the text of Matthew 19:13-15, and see if we can draw any practical conclusions about children from this incident in the ministry of Jesus.  We’ll work through the passage from the standpoints of the people involved.

1 The Parents.  Then little children were brought to Him

It’s likely that in this situation the children would have been brought by their mothers.  But why would they want to do this?

  • The reason for their desire.  But who wouldn’t want their children to meet the Saviour! What Christian parent would ant to do anything else but introduce their children to the Saviour whom they themselves have met?  Hopefully, bringing them to a knowledge of the blessings of the Lord, they will also learn to trust him.  These women obviously did.  
    • They knew the Saviour! They had witnessed the love and the power of Christ, and they had seen his healing ability.  
    • They had faith!  In bringing these children to Jesus, they must have been confident that he would receive them.
    • They had courage. Their own religious leaders didn’t support Jesus, in fact they were openly hostile and antagonistic towards him, but this didn’t in any way stop them from wanting their children to meet the Saviour.   
    • They were Covenantal! They believed that their children were capable of receiving such a blessing.  The youngest of children are capable of having a simple, saving faith in Jesus!  Saving faith is but a mustard seed, the smallest of all the tiny seeds, and it is the gift of God, – children can exercise that simple faith.  These mothers certainly believed that.
  • The objective of their desire.  that He might put His hands on them and pray.  This would have been a way of conferring blessing upon them, like a father blessing a son.  In Genesis, Isaac blessed Jacob, by placing his hands upon him.  Like any parent, they wanted their children to be blessed.

2. The Disciples.  but the disciples rebuked them..

The disciples become a self appointed security team!

  • Were they angry? I wonder was there anger in their voices?  Many would think so!  What would make them so angry with these ‘mothers of Salem’ that they would drive them away from Jesus?  Is it because children ultimately are an inconvenience in religious circles? Some people don’t want to see children in church because they are disruptive.  
  • Were they protective?  Jesus has been healing, and teaching and been fielding the attacks of the pharisees – he has no home, he’s sleeping under the skies, – Matthew 8:20   he’s physically exhausted.  Some commentators deny that the disciples are being angry with the mothers, or in any way stern, but rather just acting out of concern for the welfare of the Lord.

Whichever of these reasons is accurate, there is no doubt that the disciples were acting contrary to what was expected of them. it’s not the business of followers to Jesus to prevent anyone from coming to him!  

 So, what was the response of Jesus to the women and to the disciples?

3. The Saviour.

This is surely one of the most appealing and charming passages in the earthly ministry of Jesus. He loves to have the little children to come to Him and be blessed.  So see:-

  • His rebuke.  14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them;.  There is no-one who should prevent anyone coming to Jesus, let alone a little child.   There is certainly something very special, privileged and blessed about being born into a Christian home, where God is worshipped, Christ is honoured, the Word is read and prayers are offered.  Paul even tells us that if even one parent is a believer the children are ‘holy’ (separate, kept clean from the world).  1 Corinthians 7:14  
  • His response to the request.  15 And He laid His hands on them.  So see his response to the request of the mothers.  He laid his hands upon the children and he blessed them.  Note that it was the Saviour who laid his hands on the children!  It is perfectly feasible to think that some of these little ones were babes in arms, some shy little toddlers, hiding behind their mothers’ skirts…  Children are often shy. Children don’t readily run from their parents to others.  Like we sinners, we don’t reach out to Christ of our own free will, for Paul affirms in Romans 3:11   So Jesus takes the initiative, as he always does, and he welcomes them, and even when they can’t or don’t reach out to him, he reaches out to them, and blesses them.   

And that leads to one final observation on the passage.

 

4. The Children.  for of such is the kingdom of heaven..

Jesus completely reverses our conventional thinking. Children are not an inconvenience or people of little consequence.  In fact if we want to be followers of Jesus, if we want to be blessed by him, we too must come as little children!  So great is their value that they are our example of humility and dependancy!  

But there is another great comfort that we take from this.  Abortion leaves an awful scar on a woman’s life. Women who have had this procedure have often been pressured and manipulated, or made to feel feel under obligation to end their baby’s life , and afterwards are burdened with deep guilt.  They need Jesus.  It is for these women that the words of Jesus here in Matthew 19 bring so much comfort and hope, for we are told by him, that ‘of such is the kingdom of heaven!’. 

And because of this, and because Christ died for sinners, there is hope and there is forgiveness for women who have had an abortion, for the men who encouraged them to have an abortion or paid for an abortion, and even for  the abortionists, those merciless medics who rip babies from their mothers’ wombs.  There is forgiveness in Christ, for his atoning death on the cross paid the penalty for all our sins, no matter how great those sins may be.  Even the sin of murder, even the sin of infanticide.  They can be forgiven, and be healed, and know that one day they will meet those little babies whose lives they destroyed.  They will be reunited in heaven, where there is no more death or sorrow or pain, and they will greet each other as redeemed souls with eternal life in Jesus.

To return to the psalmist, Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed.

© BobMcEvoy April 2019

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