Good Morning Brothers…
Last week we talked about “UN-fruitfulness” and how this gets under the skin of Jesus. This certainly is not a mild irritant that is ‘no big deal’ but an indication that the believer needs a stronger faith. Since faith is a gift of God, we receive faith through prayer and study and not by gritting our teeth in some exercise of mental toughness. Today we are going to look at something that REALLY aggravates our Lord.
Jesus’ love of children is illustrated for us in Matthew 19:13-14, Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” What is very interesting about this passage is the inheritance of children…the kingdom of heaven. It is easy to be confused here and think that all children will go to heaven. Passages like this is where we get extra Biblical teachings like the ‘age of accountability’. However, we need to see the link between the physical example of children and the spiritual inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. To shed some more light on this, lets look at a passage from Matthew 18:1-6, At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
In this passage, Jesus instructs that His disciples (and us) need to be converted into children to receive the kingdom of heaven. At this point we should be able to see the link to the spiritual reality from the physical example. If we humble ourselves like a child. If we love openly like a child. If we express joy boisterously like a child. If we submit to authority willingly like a child. We will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is telling us that we are children of God if we live this way and it all starts with being humble. The passage goes on to issue a warning to anyone who causes one of God’s children to stumble. The warning is quite graphic and we can almost hear the graveness in Jesus’ voice as he uttered it. Anyone who exercises their position, influence, or power to lead God’s children astray, not only gets “under His skin” but reserves for themselves big time judgement.
2 Peter 2:1-3 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Peter lays it down here when he says, “their destruction is not asleep” and “their judgment from long ago is not idle“. This is like those things that get “under my skin” at all times. No longer a mild irritant, but something that causes my gut to wrench and my eyes to narrow.
Our physical children are the future of our family name and holders of our legacy. If we teach them truth, raise them in righteousness, and nurture them in love, they will carry on our earthly names in honor. Likewise, new converts to the faith must also be taught in truth, raised into righteousness, and nurtured in love. The legacy and family name we all carry is that of God’s. We are His children, known by Him as such, and we must understand our role. Returning to the passage in Matthew 18, I want to zero in on verse 5, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me”. In order to understand what Jesus is saying here we must understand that both “whoever receives” and “one such child” are children…children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. The mature believer in this equation receives the immature with grace, mercy, and forgiveness because they (we) receive in Jesus’ name.
As the Church, as children of the Most High, we must receive in Jesus’ name. If we are bearing fruit because of the LIFE that is within us, we will be in position to receive many, new to the faith, because they have responded to the LIFE inside of us and around us. They have eaten from our good fruits produced by the Spirit of God and have, in turn, received LIFE. We must teach the new converts as younger brothers, all sharing the same family, holding the same inheritance, keepers of the same legacy, because we all share in the same blood and commune with the same Father…God Almighty.
“Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Children…the children of God. If the world (or us) really wants to get “under the skin” of the Risen Lord…mess with His kids.