Christ and the Children
St. Mark IX. 33, to X. 17.
"He called unto Him a little child."
EACHER study parallel passages in St. Matthew.
Recapitulate lesson of Transfiguration. After
Transfiguration they went on through Galilee
and came to Capernaum. On the road the Lord overheard a
dispute going on behind Him. They thought He had not
heard. He knows all our thoughts and words. Utterly
confused and ashamed when, as they sat in the house, He
quietly turned to ask them—what? Felt like school-boys
caught in some wrong that they thought was not known.
Already had learned enough to be ashamed of dispute.
What was it about? Why this dispute now? Perhaps
because Peter, James, and John chosen to be at
Transfiguration. Perhaps the high praise given to Peter
at Cæsarea Philippi. Lord was sorry to see this bad
spirit. Tried to teach them the law of Witness of the
Kingdom of Heaven—what? (v. 35).
Meaning? THE HIGHEST GREATNESS IN GOD'S SIGHT IS THAT OF HUMBLING AND
FORGETTING SELF FOR THE SERVICE OF OTHERS. THE LOWEST
POSITION IN GOD'S SIGHT IS HIS WHO IS ONLY STRIVING AND
STRUGGLING FOR HIS OWN GAIN AND GREATNESS. All class
repeat this. Take case of boy or girl at home. Describe
to me the sort that will be highest or lowest in God's
sight? Take case of merchant, politician, etc. By such
questioning into details make the subject real and
practical to the children.
Such was Christ's sermon. What was His text? Strange
text. Imagine preacher to-day in church saying before
sermon, "This is my text," and lifting a child like
M_____ on to the pulpit. Called unto Him a little child;
perhaps one of Peter's little boys, as this was
probably Peter's house. Did the child come? Yes. Don't
you think the children in that house would be fond of
the Lord who often came in amongst them? Do you think
children soon find out who is fond of them? Some people
don't care for children. Some greatly love them—which
sort our Lord? Did He tell the little chap to stand
away from Him while He taught this lesson? What then?
Lifted him on His knee; put His arms around him. I
don't think He could help doing that whenever He got a
little child near Him (see ch. x. 16).
He was so fond
of them, they could not help being fond of Him. You
could not either if you saw Him and
knew Him, as you will one day in Heaven. He
was greatly popular with children. They ran to Him, clung to
Him in His arms, shouted "Hosanna" to Him. What a
joyous friend for children. Full of sympathy for their
innocent pleasure and mirth. Children, cling to Him;
don't disappoint Him.
Think of these eager, grasping apostles, each worrying
and striving to be greater than the others. See them
looking at this innocent little child taken from his
play, and wondering in his little heart how he came to
be taken such notice of. No thought in his mind about
their wretched strivings and ambitions. Quietly
nestling in the arms of Jesus; living in the present,
not fretting about the future, he is just the example
to teach them Christ's lesson: "Unless ye become like
this child." How? Does it mean that child sinless? Or
any child? Tradition—this child was afterwards the
great martyr, St. Ignatius, thrown to wild beasts in
Rome. Perhaps true. Probably fond enough of our Lord to
die for Him. But surely not sinless. All mankind
fallen. Even little children need a Saviour. But the
Lord wanted to teach childlike spirit. Children, unless
badly brought up, are innocent, contented, kindly—not
self-conscious, not supercilious, or making class
distinctions. Not fretting about the future.
Peacefully, quietly trusting their parents, and living
"one day at a time." The hard world hardens and spoils
us. The Lord says, "Keep the child-like heart in you.
Be as little children in the Great Father's home. Not
worrying or fretting for greatness, but loving and
trusting the Father, and gladly doing His will."
Watch Him still with child clasped in His arms. "Whoso
receiveth," etc. (v. 37).
How He loved children, and
commended them to men's care. But oh! how angry if one
led them wrong! What does He threaten?
Meaning of "offend"? Think of Him looking at little
boy and letting His thoughts run on into future, when
people should tempt that child away from God. How awful
Christ's anger! Shows how great His love for children.
Show me how this anger could be deserved (1) by parent
or teacher; (2) by one of you. Worst sin in God's sight
is to tempt another to do wrong.
Meaning of verses 43-48. Tell us to cut off hand or foot
with knife? What? If tooth very bad—no rest or sleep.
What do? Pull it out. Painful? Yes; but worse evil to
leave it in. Whatever habit, or companionship, or
occupation causes you to stumble, away it must be cast,
even if as dear as right hand or eye. Tell me some such?
Desire for drink; wicked companion, who is pleasant;
occupation dangerous to modesty or truthfulness, etc.
However painful, cut it off. Better to suffer—better to
die—than to sin. So the Lord says, and He should know.
How awful sin must appear to Him!
Ch. x. 13-27.—Here He is with
the children again. They
brought them—for what?
What good was it? If
not old enough to understand His teaching, could they
receive any good from His
blessing them? Surely yes; else He would not
have acted as He did. Disciples rebuked them. Perhaps
thought it would do no good to them. Some people think
that still, when we bring children to Him in Holy
Baptism. Did Jesus say, "Take these children away
until they are old enough to understand my preaching"?
No. God can do the child good before the age of
understanding. So He told Jews to bring infants to Him
in circumcision, and we believe He wants us to bring
infants in Baptism, that He may bless them. Here again
we have anger showing love. How?
(v. 4). Never in His
life before was He so "sore displeased." No such
strong expression ever again of Him. It seems to have
been the most offensive and criminal thing to keep
children back from Him. Just as He felt before about
leading them astray. And again His great heart went out
to the little ones, and one by one they were clasped in
His strong arms, and blessed with great spiritual
blessing. What did He say to disciples? "Suffer," etc.
"Of such is the Kingdom of God." Remember what we
learned about Kingdom of God in Lesson II. What was it
for? To march as young "knights of God" through this
"naughty world," blessing and gladdening it, and helping
all around us to live beautiful lives for God. Are you
too young and foolish to be members of the Kingdom? Is
it not a beautiful life to put before you, to live as
members of His Kingdom of God on earth, and then march
on at death through the golden gates to the higher
Kingdom of God in Heaven?