Friends, I hope you’ve had a blessed week and are looking forward to the coming Sabbath. Did you know that this Sabbath has been designated worldwide as “Children’s Sabbath”? It’s part of the Seventh-day Adventist Special Emphasis Days and Events calendar.
“Children are the heritage of the Lord,” we read in Psalm 127:3. And how true this is, in the family and in the Church! What could be more important than our precious children?
Personally, Nancy and I have been blessed with three wonderful daughters who are now grown and married, giving us three dear sons-in-law. And from these have come 11 precious grandchildren! What a wonderful gift from the Lord! When we are all together our home is brimming with energy and excitement, and our hearts overflow with joy.
However, as you may know, especially if you are a parent or grandparent, an aunt, uncle, or someone else caring for children—along with the joy comes responsibilities—the responsibility to love and care for the child, and to guide him or her in the way of the Lord. This isn’t always easy, and true wisdom comes only as we look to God for His blessing and guidance revealed in His Word, and through the very practical counsel given in the Spirit of Prophecy.
You know, during the time of Christ, parents also had joys and concerns, and many longed for a special blessing from Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, we read about one such encounter. Unfortunately, the disciples were not very welcoming. We read about it in Mark 10:13-16—
“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”
What a beautiful, instructive picture of how Jesus welcomed and blessed the children. Children are so open, unpretentious, and trusting—important traits to have when we approach our Heavenly Father!
In the book Ministry of Healing, Ellen White gives us a behind-the-scenes look at this encounter. She writes:
“When the mothers came desiring Him to bless their little ones, the disciples looked on them with disfavor. They thought these children too young to be benefited by a visit to Jesus, and concluded that He would be displeased at their presence. But the Saviour understood the care and burden of the mothers who were seeking to train their children according to the word of God. He had heard their prayers” (p. 40).
She goes on to mention that these young ones were not just infants—some were in their childhood, and others were youth.
“In teaching,” she writes, “He came down to their level. He, the Majesty of heaven, answered their questions and simplified His important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their minds the seeds of truth, which in after years would spring up and bear fruit unto eternal life” (p. 42).
Then she adds this very important message for us today: “When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers in all ages—to officers of the church, ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, ‘Suffer them to come;’ as if He would say, They will come, if you do not hinder them” (p. 42). [Pause]
Friends, is your church friendly and supportive of the children and youth? Do you take a personal interest in them? Do you know them by name? Have you shown them the love of Jesus in the way you listen to them, showing that you care, encouraging them in their spiritual life? Sabbath school teachers, Children’s Ministries leaders, Pathfinder and AY leaders have a vital role in leading children and youth to Jesus, encouraging them to make Jesus their Best Friend and to share His love with others!
But it’s not just up to these leaders, as important as they are. Let’s remember that the children and youth are watching us—you and me—to see how we live our faith. To see what kind of difference Jesus makes in our lives. Through His power, let’s let our lights shine brightly as we joyfully lead the young to Him!
Let’s pray together. Dear Lord, You’ve given us such a responsibility to care for little ones and older ones—the youth in our congregations, in our homes, in our communities. Lord, help us to take interest in young people and to, through Your power, influence their lives and bend them towards eternal things of value. Lord, guide us in our practical experience at church, at home, and wherever we are as we interface with young people. And help us to point them to their Best Friend, Jesus Christ. Thank You for hearing us in this prayer, and be with us as we reach out to children, to men and women, to families, to everyone in Total Member Involvement, realizing that Jesus is coming soon. In Christ’s name, we ask it, amen.