Inheritors of the Kingdom Matthew 19:13-15

“Inheritors of the Kingdom”                                        February 12, 2023                                     Matthew 19:13-15

HI:  grasp and pursue God’s promises

Introduction:      “I’m sure God loves the sound of little children laughing and playing in his house” ~ paraphrasing Corrie Ten Boom  Tramp for the Lord

Thomas’ baptism—running around the church…the understanding of the covenant promises we had then. 

  • Compared to the first time we had four baptized…
    • Much less understanding
    • Much more control of the children 😊
  • You don’t have to “get” everything—salvation and God’s blessings aren’t dependent on you in any way
    • God loves to bless his people, and seeing his people enjoy those blessings is a source of joy for him
    • God loves to see his children enjoying his house

This passage clearly shows us that Jesus’ loves children, and related to his love, we see something about trusting God’s promises too. 

To get a good understanding of the text—we need to look to the context. 

  • Jesus welcoming the children is in between two passages about people Jesus, in essence, turned away
  • The Pharisees came to test Jesus in vv.1-9
  • The rich man came to justify himself in vv. 16-30
  • These children didn’t come on their own—they were too small
    • The word here refers to small children
    • Parallel in Luke 18:15 the word refers to infants through toddler
    • These are very small children who are brought to Jesus
  • The difference is how they were brought versus how the Pharisees and the Rich Man came
    • The parents (presumably—the subject of v.13 is all the way back in v.2 “a great crowd”)
      • Didn’t come testing like the Pharisess, they came trusting
      • They Didn’t come to justify themselves, like the rich man, they came seeking Jesus’ blessing and touch
    • What drew them to trust and seek?  Undoubtedly the promises of God
      • OT gospel—Gen 22:14 “God will provide”
      • They believed God would provide and whatever specifics they believed about Jesus, in general, they believed Jesus was a part of that provision
      • In the days to come it would become clear that Jesus was more than part of the provision—he was the fullness
      • But for today—for the parents and kids that day—it was enough to trust in God’s promises.  And it’s still enough for us too.

Two points:  1. The Parents’ Faith  2.  God’s Promises to his Children

  1. The Parents’ Faith
    1. These parents were bringing their children to Jesus—and as any parent knows, children are sinful
      1. *mention the rare instance of Courtney believing Elisabeth was perfect
      1. They didn’t think their children deserved his touch or blessing, nor had any way to justify their receiving it
      1. They simply sought the Messiah’s benediction because they knew he was someone God sent
      1. I’m sure they didn’t know Jesus was going to die to save his people from their sins, but they believed the simple gospel promise—“God will provide” and Jesus was part of that promise
    1. So they were seeking Christ because of God’s promise
      1. The promises of God are all fulfilled in Christ—they didn’t realize this, but they knew God’s promise was valid and true
      1. Which means, God’s promises are objects for our faith,
        1. That’s Puritan language—“objects of our faith”
        1. It basically means that the promises of God are things we can trust to be true and fulfilled and, in turn, the promises feed, nurture, and sustain our spiritual graces.[1]
      1. God’s promises are the essence of our faith that keeps us going
        1. But first, we have to believe them—that means it’s more than just knowing God’s promises, and quoting them, we have to really believe them
          1. it’s easy to say I believe them, than to act like I do—right?
          1. Why?  Because, when I need them, it’s usually not because everything is coming up roses.
          1. It’s when you’re child is choosing to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
          1. Or you find out something awful and sinful that is a part of people’s lives you love.
          1. Or terminal illness, death, a closed door on your future you were really planning on.
          1. That’s when you have to believe God’s promises and hold on to them for dear life–Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Is. 40:28-9)
        1. And second, we have to apply them.  Start applying God’s promises by meditating on them frequently and deeply. 
          1. William Spurstowe (17th century Puritan)
          1. Meditating on a particular promise is like looking at a night sky.  At first you only see one or two stars and those you see, you  just barely see them twinkling.  Take another look and there’s 20 stars, and then after you have gazed into the night heavens for an extended period you see that the whole sky is bright with light from the stars.[2]
        1. Third, keep some promises on hand—like spiritual medicine for your ailing faith!  If you have Tylenol and ibuprofen in the cabinet when a fever comes, then all you have to do is administer them appropriately…the same is true of God’s promises
          1. Study your Bible to find the promises you need
          1. Are burdened with sin?  Do you feel lost in your sinfulness with no way forward? Like Pilgrim in the slough of despond?
            1. Hold on to God’s very character of just forgiveness
            1. Exodus 34:6-7 “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
          1. Or maybe you are mourning over your lack of holiness
            1. Hosea 14:5-7 God promises to water all our graces:  I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
          1. Are you sensing danger or a particularly difficult time coming?
            1. Find encouragement and comfort in Isaiah 43:2-5 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. … you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you…
    1. Like these parents, our faith should be a seeking faith
      1. Seeking according to the light God’s son has provided us
      1. And seeking the source of the light that is directing our paths
        1. Octavius Winslow compared the eye of faith looking to Christ with an eagle’s eye being trained to look at the sun. “It is said that the eagle’s eye becomes strong by fixing its gaze intently upon the sun, the power of vision gradually increases so much that the eagle can spot the smallest of objects without difficulty even though it is obscured with the sun’s splendor.”[3]
        1. Our faith is like that, except “our eye of faith grows vigorous by our looking much to the Sun of righteousness. The more constantly our faith gazes upon Jesus, the stronger it grows; and the stronger it grows, the more glory it discovers in him, the more beauty in his person, and perfection in his work.”
      1. Is your faith content with knowing your sins are paid for, or is your faith seeking the one who paid for your sins—seeking to see his glory, and growing in your perception of what it is that makes him beautiful?
        1. Faith that seeks Christ starts with faith in Christ—it’s as simple as that
          1. Satan employs every art to mystify the simplicity of faith, and to neutralize its efforts.[4]
          1. Faith isn’t difficult to understand—it’s difficult for us to practice, but not to understand
          1. Practicing faith is difficult because in faith we have to acknowledge our inability and dependence
          1. that’s uncomfortable to say the least
        1. Faith is the simple rolling of a wounded, bleeding heart, upon a wounded, bleeding Savior.[5]
          1. You’re wounds and your blood points to your death apart from Jesus
          1. On the other hand, Jesus’ wounds and blood point to your sin that caused it
          1. In this simple picture you should see
            1. The reason you love him is because he first loved you to the utmost
            1. You should see his purpose for bleeding isn’t just so you can go on your merry way to eternal life, no, his death was so that you would desire him as much as he desires you
            1. so the gospel calls you to roll upon your wounded, bleeding savior
  2. God’s Promises to his Children: Trusting and Seeking Christ is ultimately founded on the Foundation of God’s Promises
    1. “the promises of God are the pathways where Christ meets the soul.”[6] 
      1. These children were brought to Jesus based on the parents’ belief in God’s covenant promises
        1. As they followed God’s promises they ended up meeting God’s Christ
      1. The foundational promise for every Israelite was first given to Abraham and repeated to Isaac and then to Jacob.  Gen. 26:1-5  Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
        1. It’s more than just knowing the promises, for sure, but it’s definitely not less
        1. The parents knew this promise in its four parts (people, place, presence, program) and acted on it—bringing their little ones to Jesus—they were bringing the people part of the promise to the fulfillment of all the promises
        1. So in Gen. 26  and it is supported throughout all of scripture:  the children of God’s people are important to God’s purpose and adored in his heart
        1. Peter in Acts 2:38-39   “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
    1. The promise is for you and your children, they aren’t bystanders to the kingdom, they are inheritors of the kingdom
    1. Leon Morris, “Jesus had a great interest in children. We have already noticed that he used one small child as a model to drive home some important spiritual truths (18:2–6, 10), and now we see the same interest and concern. . . It is not easy to think of Muhammad as concerned for little children, or Gautama the Buddha. But the Gospels make it clear that there were often children around Jesus. He observed their games (11:16–17), spoke of them in his teaching, and clearly was genuinely interested in them.[7]
      1. The gospel is free reconciliation of sinners with God—there’s nothing you can do to cause this, earn this, or make God want to do this for you.  You simply have to receive it as a child receives everything he needs, everything he wants, and everything he wishes for from his parents.
      1. In that way, the holy children of believers (1 Cor. 7:14) are the most perfect recipients of the gospel.  Because they just receive—they don’t even attempt to earn.
    1. Let’s apply this
      1. Since we are Christ’s bride, let us receive Jesus’ children as our Lord did– Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
        1. With love—seek to love God’s children as your own
        1. With acceptance—not just at their presence, and the sounds children make that bring us joy, but should also accept their childish ways
          1. The playing that sometimes feels like they are in our way—that playing is a joy to God, it should bring you joy as well
          1. The noises and even crying that children make in church building and in the gathering of believers is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to Abraham.  “I will make you father of a multitude of nations.”
          1. We accept the childishness of children because it reminds us of God’s good design
      1. Parents of little ones—rejoice in them and let us rejoice in them too
        1. They will be childish, that’s what children do
          1. Let them play in God’s house
            1. Not everyone will agree with that—Rosie B.
              1. I happen to think they’re wrong
          1. As they behave childishly we can learn patience and practice love, so their expected childishness helps us to be rid of our remaining childishness
        1. Claim God’s promises for them—pray the promises on their behalf
        1. Seek the seal of Christ on your children—baptizing them
        1. Improve their baptisms—teaching them Christ, showing them Christ
          1. (grace to them,
          1. guidance in Christ’s ways,
          1.  let them see that you are sinner like they are, but you repent and trust in exactly the way they are supposed to trust—modeling the gospel
      1. Parents of not so little ones—this text shows us that Jesus is committed to your children so commit your children to him in prayer
        1. Pray the promises that apply to your children as well as to you—“these promises are for you and your children” (Ax 2:39; responsive reading.)
        1. When you see your children growing up and slipping from the faith and your heart is dropping, claim these promises on their behalf.
          1. Believe the promises are still valid
          1. Apply them to your children in their situations
          1. Remember the most important thing is their faith and seek God’s help towards that end
          1. Pray—“oh God in heaven, this child has been baptized in your name, sealed with your Son by your Spirit, make him remember you”
      1. We are a family united in Christ—when we take vows at baptisms, we all take them, to help these little ones grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord
        1. My favorite piece of baptismal liturgy comes from the French Reformed church, and it teaches us all the gospel so well:
        1. For you, little child, Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered.  For you he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and endured the horror of Calvary.  For you he uttered the cry, “It is finished!”  For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes—for you, little child, even though you do not know it.  But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true.  “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Believe God’s promises, lean on God’s promises in faith and by faith your spiritual graces will be nurtured and fed.  And love God’s children as your own—we are God’s people and the little people belong here too.  May they never know a day apart from the love of Jesus in his bride—it’s a prayer to God for them, and it’s an exhortation to you on their behalf. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

411 Shine Thou Upon Us, Lord

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

[1] Beeke and Jones. A Puritan Theology. 406.

[2] Ibid, 410.

[3] Winslow.  Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul.  84

[4] Winslow, 67.

[5] Ibid. 71.

[6] Beeke and Jones. A Puritan Theology. 402.

[7] Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 486.