13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
My daughter testifies that she came to trust Jesus at an early age. We were riding in my truck when she turned to me and said very matter of factly, “Daddy, I want to be saved”. I talked with her about salvation in a lot of detail that day, she was after all, just so young. We talked and eventually she prayed, asking Jesus to save her. Her prayer was very confident and without very much emotion.
I understand that we are not saved by emotion.
I am thankful that emotion is not a requirement for salvation.
How would I ever know if I‘ve cried enough?
How could I be sure that I had given the appropriate volume of shout if my hopes hinged on my hollering?
It is a good thing we are saved by trust in the capabilities of Christ to save rather than our capacity for feeling. As Martin Luther famously said,
“Feelings come and feelings go, And feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God Naught else is worth believing”
My little girl was just so little, and the lack of a visual sign of remorse for sin or any evidence of elation because of forgiveness left me very unsure that she understood it all.
After she prayed she looked at me and said, I want to be baptized. I am a Baptist preacher that believes in “believer’s baptism” so I gave her the John the Baptist answer, “bring forth fruits meet for repentance”.
Actually, she was too young to get that one, so I said, “honey, let me make sure that you understand completely first”.
She said, “ok Daddy” and walked inside. That sassy little thing walked straight up to her momma, put her hands on her hips, moved her head on a swivel as she said, “Mom, I just got saved, Daddy doesn’t think I understand but I do, and I am going to get baptized!”
Time has proven that she did understand and yes, she did get baptized! So, what does this story have to do with our reading today?
The disciples tried to keep those precious little youngins from Jesus. He was far too busy a man for little kids, or at least that is what they assumed. As it turns out, Jesus loved those kids. He was furious that they kept the children from him. When the Lord rebuked those disciples and told them to allow kids to come to him, he explained a wonderful spiritual truth.
Children are not required to have an adult experience in order to be saved but adults absolutely must have a child like experience for salvation.
Children are better at some things than we adults, specifically trust. As it turns out, the essential element for obtaining salvation is trust. Unless we come as a little child we can’t be saved. One can know the most difficult of doctrines and die without Christ but you cannot trust Christ in vain!