Bring Children to Church
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 21:15b-16a Holman . . .they were indignant and said to Him, “Do you
hear what these children are saying?”
Notice, children were at the temple. Bring your little ones to church. We still, centuries later, need to hear their gleeful, high-pitched voices in church.
Parents and grandparents, do all it takes to bring your children and grandchildren to church. If need be, change Sunday School classes, change worship service times or venues, and yes, change churches if it might help.
As an adult who is a believer, you’re going to Heaven when you die whether you want to or not. Make sure your beloved descendants will join you there.
Bring Jesus the littlest ones. Teach them to pray, sing, praise, and often say, “Thank You, God; I love You, Jesus.” May they never remember not believing.
My Grandma Hill served Jesus till her death at age 95. She said she had loved Jesus and served Him as far back as she could remember. She said she could not recall a time when she first believed.
I’m grateful for parents who led me to believe in a virgin birth before I knew what a virgin was. I relate to the quaint story of the parent who put Santa Claus in a nativity scene and asked the child who it was. He said, “Round John Virgin.”
Mom and Dad taught me to quote John 3:16 before I knew what “begotten” meant. I believed and loved the Bible before I could read it. At age three, I tore a page out of Dad’s Bible (from his favorite book Matthew) and received enough of a whipping to where I never showed disrespect to a copy of God’s Word again.
Don’t disregard children. On this day in the temple, no adults were heard cheering for Jesus. Children were the heroes of this scene. They were fearless, repeating what they heard at the Triumphal Entry. They got it, they understood, they remind us only those who become as little children can receive Jesus.
Surely, Jesus was blessed by hearing someone praise Him in the temple. Whitefield’s diary tells about children at Moorfield who blessed him while eggs, mud, and stones were thrown at him. He said children at his feet refused to budge, endured the pelting with him, prayed for him, and cried when he was struck.
When Melanchthon overheard a group of children praying for the success of Luther and the Reformation, he told Luther, who was very discouraged at the time, “Courage, brother, the children are praying for us, and God will hear them.”
Don’t underestimate the spiritual ability of children. God doesn’t. When a stern message needed to be delivered to Eli, God chose a boy, Samuel. When Naaman the leper needed healing, God used a little girl to direct him. After I preached, 35 years ago, on how our sins hurt Jesus, a little boy walked up to me and said, “Jesus has been hurt enough”. His sermon still resonates in my heart.
The religious leaders thought the children’s words were blasphemy, but the profanity was in their own hearts. It’s ironic; the noise of cows, lambs, doves, and coins clinking was good, but the voices of children praising Jesus were bad.
Matt. 21:16b “Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read: You have
prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants?”
Jesus refused to be intimidated by the leadership’s antagonism. He had shown Himself to be King of the temple by cleansing it, Priest of the temple by healing the sick, and now Prophet of the temple by rebuking the religious leaders.
Jesus again quoted a Bible passage, Psalm 8:2, to justify His actions. Jesus loved to quote Scripture. My dad and grandpa were good at this. They seemed to have a Bible verse for every occasion. When I was a boy, Grandpa would often start a verse and expect me to end it. This always embarrassed me. I remember one verse in particular he used with me. “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians” (Isaiah 19:23). I happen to recall this particular passage because even as a child I remember thinking, “Why would any kid in the world know that verse?” His custom was sometimes intimidating, but one thing he taught me for sure, the Bible matters.
While reflecting on my childhood, let me share a painful regret I have. I grew up during a time when churches did not emphasize Bible memorization. This small window of time yielded long lasting, tragic repercussions for me. I grieve the piddling amount of Bible verses I memorized. I envy any who know many verses.
One verse I did memorize made my regret even worse. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (PS 119:11). Would having more of the Bible hidden in my heart maybe have made me spiritually stronger?
Lest you deem this merely an intellectual, hypothetical exercise, let me tell a story that deeply affected me over thirty years ago. My dear friend Van Segars, our former Senior Adult Minister here at Second who served on staff with me at four churches, was in the Air Force when our POWs came home from Viet Nam.
Van was one of the many who helped these prisoners try to return to their former lives. As Air Force counselors sought to help these men restructure their lives, one part of the therapy was to talk about the POWs’ experiences in captivity.
Van says a common theme began to emerge from these men’s stories. They craved Bible verses. They desired to remember every verse they had memorized as children at home, in Sunday School, and in Vacation Bible School. They would sneak verses written on scraps of paper to one another, and whisper verses in each others’ ears. They were sometimes punished for doing this, but they understood how strengthening, how precious, and how comforting, Bible verses can be.
This story stuck with me. Memory may not have served me well, but I am determined to hide as much of the Word in my heart as possible. I read the Bible every year. I read in it daily. Love the Bible. Teach your children to love it too.
On this day in the temple, our Master quoted Psalm 8, a passage that ascribes greatness to God. The fact Jesus applied Psalm 8 to Himself meant He was claiming to be God. Psalm 8 is also used of Jesus in three other places in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 2:6-8). This indicates the New Testament writers were convinced Jesus was God’s Son, God of very God.
The sick and children were the kind of weak people Jesus wants to help. He preferred dealing with the sick and children over evil unrepentant religious leaders.
God is honored when praised by the weak, by simple unprejudiced souls. They honor Him for Himself, not for any material or physical benefits they have received. Satan asked if Job served God “for naught”. His life bore testimony to the fact it is possible for a person to serve God solely because God is God.
Matt. 21:17 Then He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the
In your imagination, take a triple view of Bethany with me for a moment. One, in our text’s seemingly mundane detail, don’t miss the tragedy. This verse tells us what happens to those who refuse Jesus. He leaves them. He is a perfect gentleman. He will not force Himself on anyone, or stay where He’s unwanted.
Two, always let your heart be a Bethany, a place where Jesus finds rest and peace. “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His” (2 CH 16:9). God’s eyes are restless, wandering to and fro through the earth. Let your life be a place where He can rest.
Three, if you feel weak from the battle, find a Bethany to retreat to, to pray at. None of us is invincible. Even our Master retreated to times of secluded prayer.