Chapter 3 – The Disciples and the Mothers
This chapter continues to build on the verse introduced in the last chapter:
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. [Mark 10:13-16]
Spurgeon starts Chapter 3 with a probing question for his readers related to children:
“Have we laid ourselves out for the conversion of children, as much as we have done for the conversion of grown-up-folks?”
When you think of evangelism and sharing the gospel, does the thought of children ever enter your mind? If you are a parents, do you think of your relationship to them as a parent as one of evangelism and discipleship? Or, do you feel like the best thing for kids is simply to impart them with a lot of knowledge so that when they grow up, they can become part of God’s family?
When the disciples rebuked the mother’s for bringing their children to Jesus, they clearly felt that Jesus had more important work to do than to deal with Children. Likewise, many people in the church today feel there are more important things to do, and more important places to put their resources, than in the evangelism and discipleship of children.
Spurgeon is clear in addressing those who may feel that working with children is not part of Jesus’ plan:
“Jesus will not be dishonoured by the children: we have far more cause to fear the adults.”
In their haste to rebuke the mothers, the Apostles missed the overriding need that these children, and all children, have for Jesus. Had the mothers brought a child to the apostles who was physically sick and asked Jesus to heal him, the apostles surely would have let her through to see him. But, they missed the spiritual need of these children to come to Jesus. Spurgeon summarizes that need as follows:
“If you indulge in the novel idea that your children do not need conversion, that children born of Christian parents are somewhat superior to others, and have good within them which only needs development, one great motive for your devout earnestness will be gone.”
Everyone needs Jesus – even children! Spurgeon continues:
“Remember that however young they are, there is a stone within the youngest breast; and that stone must be taken away, or be the ruin of the child.”
Children have a tendency towards evil before they even know how to act on it. They are born with it, and only the Holy Spirit can intervene in their lives to combat that evil and bring them to Jesus.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from those who do not feel it is important to evangelize children, Spurgeon also offers a word of warning to Christian parents who might think there kids are “O.K.” just by virtue of having Christian parents:
“You must sorrowfully look upon your children as born in sin, and shapen in iniquity, “heirs of wrath, even as others”; and though you may yourself belong to a line of saints, and trace your pedigree from minister to minister, all eminent in the church of God, yet your children occupy precisely the same position by their birth as other people’s children do; so that they must be redeemed from under the curse of the law by the precious blood of Jesus, and they must receive a new nature by the work of the Holy Ghost.”
It is a fallacy with eternal implication to assume that anyone is a Christian just because of the family they are born into. Children of Christian parents are blessed not with Christianity by birth right but by being placed under godly training and in proximity to the gospel. Beyond this, they come to a saving knowledge of Christ through the work on the Holy Spirit just like any other children.
Next, Spurgeon moves on to talk yet again about a child’s capacity for dealing with spiritual matters:
“I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritual experience in children of ten and twelve than I have in certain persons of fifty and sixty.”
When dealing with children it is important to remember that the wisdom of this world is follishness to God. Just because a child is young does not mean that they have any less capacity for spiritual matters. For example, Spurgeon speaks of a child’s capability for repentance:
“Talk not of a child’s incapacity for repentance! I have known a child weep herself to sleep by the month together under a crushing sense of sin.”
Furthermore, they can certainly know the joy of the Lord.
“If you would know joy in the Lord, many a child has been as full of it as his little heart could hold.”
In fact, if you really want to know what faith in Jesus looks like, you need look no further than the innocent face of a saved child where that faith is often easier to see than in an adult. Spurgeon explains,
“If you want to know what faith in Jesus is, you must not look to those who have been bemuddled by the heretical jargon of the times, but to the dear children who have taken Jesus at His word, and believed in Him, and loved Him, and therefore know and are sure that they are saved.”
Indeed, the influence of outside forces on adults often makes it harder for them to come to a sacing faith than for a child. Spurgeon further explains:
“Capacity for believing lies more in the child than in the man. We grow less rather than more capable of faith: every year brings the unregenerate mind further away from God, and makes it less capable of receiving the things of God. No ground is more prepared for the good seed than that which as yet has not been trodden down as the highway, nor has been as yet overgrown with thorns. Not yet has the child learned the deceits of pride, the falsehood of ambition, the delusions of worldliness, the tricks of trade, the sophistries of philosophy; and so far it has an advantage over the adult.”
Much is made of the innocence of youth. While children have a sin nature just like we all do, they do benefit from a certain ignorance of the advanced “learning” that many adults use to justify their unwillingness to submit their lives to God.
Spurgeon moves swiftly from the capacity for belief in a child to the value of belief in those children and the value of children in general. He points out that, while many people neglect the value of children, in face:
“The soul’s price does not depend upon its years.”
Finally, Spurgeon makes an interesting argument about the value of child converts:
“Will you be very angry if I say that a boy is more worth saving than a man? It is infinite mercy on God’s part to save those who are seventy; for what good can they now do with the fag-end of their lives? When we get to be fifty or sixty, we are almost worn out; and if we have spent all our early days with the devil, what remains for God? But these dear boys and girls,—there is something to be made out of them. If now they yield themselves to Christ they may have a long, happy, and holy day before them in which they may serve God with all their hearts. Who knows what glory God may have of them? Heathen hands may call them blessed. Whole nations may be enlightened by them.”
As someone who came to Christ later in life, I was 30, I was interested by Spurgeon’s final argument that a young convert may be more valuable than an older convert. While some might expect me to disagree, I actually agree wholeheartedly. While I am certain that God had a purpose in waiting until I was older to join his family, I often wonder what things might have been like if I had come to know my Lord and Savior at an earlier age. Would I have pursued a different career? Would I be where I am today? Of course, all this is hindsight, and no one can say what the result would have been, but I do see the logic in Spurgeon’s argument. I also see it in my children. I see their lack of fear in sharing Jesus with their friends. I see their hunger for God in their questions. I see their respect for God in making decisions. I see all of this, and it helps me to understand why Jesus said we need faith like a child. Many days I pray that I would be more like my kids in my relationship with him.
On a completely unrelated note, this chapter included a gem from Spurgeon which did not fit with the rest of my synopsis. I wanted to share it with you. In speaking of people using false support for the notion that children of Christian parents are already saved, Spurgeon points to verses taken out of context and offers the following advice:
“If you take one half of any sentence which a man utters, and leave out the rest, you may make him say the opposite of what he means.”
I think this is important to remember whenever we are using the Bible.
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Three can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc03.htm
Chapter 2 – Do Not Hinder the Children
Chapter 4 – The Children’s Shepherd
: NEXT TIME>>