The text for this lesson is Matthew 19:13–15; Luke 18:15–17.
- We are all needy because of sin, but Jesus welcomes people of all ages and blesses us with His love and forgiveness.
- Law: Because of my sin, I am helpless and needy and can do nothing to save myself.
- Gospel: Jesus works through the Means of Grace to invite me to come to Him, blessing me with His gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.
For roughly the first thirty years of His earthly life, Jesus lived much like any other human being of His time and culture, except without sin. Born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, Jesus worked as a carpenter, adopting His earthly father’s trade. Now, it was time for our Lord to adopt His heavenly Father’s trade. In today’s Bible account, we encounter Jesus in the region of Perea, northeast of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Following His Baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus began His earthly ministry, teaching about the kingdom of heaven, healing, and working other miracles. It’s no wonder Jesus drew large crowds of people wherever He went. He presented the love of God and salvation as a free gift of God’s grace, rather than as a consequence of our best efforts to keep the Law. He taught about loving, forgiving, and showing mercy to one’s neighbor. He spent time with those the rest of society often rejected: tax collectors, lepers, and prostitutes.
In this lesson’s text, Jesus took time from His demanding schedule to welcome and embrace children. Likely with the best intentions, the disciples rebuked the children. Perhaps they believed Jesus was far too important to trifle with little ones. Maybe they believed children were too limited to grasp His divine teachings. Regardless, our Lord makes clear that the little children are welcome. What’s more, He uses a child’s humility and natural trust to explain key elements of the Christian life.
Jesus understood two important truths about little children that the disciples may have missed: (1) they are just as precious in God’s sight as a person of any other age, and (2) they need the salvation that God gives in Christ as much as a person of any other age.
Conceived in sin, all people, regardless of age, are unable to love, trust, or please God or come to Him. Without the forgiveness earned by Christ and given through the work of the Holy Spirit, all human beings would spend eternity in hell. We might assume that the disciples who rebuked the children believed them to be too cognitively or spiritually simple to grasp Jesus’ message. They were correct! However, the same was true for the disciples and everyone else present.
Jesus understood not only that the children needed His salvation but also that—because of the work of the Holy Spirit—they could have it through faith. For this reason, He embraced and touched them.
God’s desire to bring salvation to the little children in Perea extends to children, and people of all ages, even today. For this reason, God has given us His Means of Grace: the Word and Sacraments. The Bible teaches that through the Means of Grace, God draws lost and condemned sinners out of sin, death, and hell and brings them forgiveness and everlasting life in heaven. His Word and Sacraments are His divine and effectual means to bring what Christ earned on the cross to all, even the little children!