Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there (Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV).
Jesus here was not in the synagogue or any formal place of worship. He was out and about with His disciples. The disciples were fine with the Pharisees coming and debating divorce with Jesus in verses 1-12. But they drew the line at parents bringing little children for Jesus to bless and pray for. Youth ministry maybe, but Children’s ministry? That was a waste of Jesus’ time! After all the real stuff is adult ministry right!
I know what they were feeling. I often call my three girls monkeys. They can be loud, wild, unpredictable, and sometimes (let me be honest) they can act like wild animals! It seems like our house has not been clean and in order for more than a day or two in a row in the last 15 years! They can be loud, weird, messy, and downright distracting. I’m not alone in that right? This isn’t just me is it?
Don’t you parents love the idea of a nursery and children’s church going on during the service, so you can relax and worship and listen to the message without having to constantly answer questions, take your kids to the bathroom, listen to them ask when the service is going to be over, or bending over to pick up all the crayons that just spilled all over the floor?
Not only did Jesus think it was a good use of His time, He also used them to teach how His disciples needed to view the kingdom of God. It wasn’t about needing to be all grown up, or being all together, or even understanding it all. It was all about grace. Jesus graciously reaches out to us even when we cannot reach out to Him. As those children were dependent on their parents for everything they needed, we need to be learning that we are no less dependent on Jesus for everything we need. When we start picking and choosing who is worth sharing the Father’s love with we are missing the point. Jesus not only rebukes His disciples for thinking that way but adds, do not hinder them.
When you look through the Gospels for how Jesus taught His disciples, you see that common and every day experiences like this were often what served as the springboards for His lessons. Scripture was His textbook, and life was His classroom. Over and over again we see that Jesus took advantage of “everyday life” to teach His disciples.
When Jesus’ disciples saw Him talking with a Samaritan woman in John 4:27-38, that led to lessons on missions.
In Mark 10:35-45, when a fight broke out among the disciples because James and John wanted to have the highest places of honor in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus turned that quarrel into an object lesson about leadership.
When the disciples called attention to the beauty of the Temple buildings in Matthew 24, Jesus used that as an opportunity to teach them about the end times.
When Jesus passed through a vineyard on the way to Gethsemane, He used the grapevines as an illustration of how we are connected to Him and how we bear His fruit (John 15:1-17).
It is my contention that Jesus has not changed His methods, and that through the Holy Spirit, He is doing the same for us; giving us special graces in common places, lessons that He wants us learning to help us work out the grace that He is constantly working into us (Philippians 2:12-13).
I have been learning God knows no distinction between the so-called “sacred” and “secular” parts of your life. It is all one sacred life to Him. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that His Spirit is no less active with you and on your behalf when you are resting at home, working at the office, or playing with your kids than when you are at church, or praying, or reading your Bible. As Jesus discipled His first disciples throughout their everyday life and experiences, He does the same thing with us.
As Jesus is constantly discipling us through our everyday life so that we can be learning to love Him and love others better (Matthew 22:36-40), we need to be learning how to be listening to Him so that we can join Him in helping others do the same (Matthew 28:19-20). These special graces that the Spirit gives are not only lessons for you, they are for you to share as you disciple others.
Learning to listen for God’s voice, to see His special graces in the common places of everyday life, means learning to tune your ears to the Spirit’s voice.
The indispensable starting point for doing that is reading and studying Scripture. The Spirit’s voice is heard in every word of every page of all sixty-six books of the Bible.
The things you will be learning in the everyday will not add to Scripture, which is God’s revealed and inerrant revelation of Himself to the whole Church in all times and in all places.
Rather they are to help you discern that the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture is constantly at work in your life, and speaking into your life—in both the big things and the small things—and to show you how the truths we have in Scripture are lived out, played out, and affirmed in every area of life.