Jesus Made Disney
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
After discussing marriage, Jesus dealt with a result of marriage, children. In Jesus’ day, children were kept in the background. Daughters had virtually no relationship with their fathers. Even sons were left with the women till older.
Jesus changed this. How quickly we forget His impact on history. The children’s Walt Disney world of today never could have existed without Jesus. He made the Disney empire possible by His promoting and honoring children.
Matthew 19:13a (Holman) Then children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray.
Mothers wanted Jesus to touch their children. No surprise here. The mothers had seen what His hands could do, and wanted their children to be near Him, to experience Him. They respected Him, and valued His prayers.
These mothers knew their children would be better off if they came under the influence of Jesus. Learn a lesson here. Bring to Jesus your children and grandchildren. Raising them for Him is the number one obligation of parenting.
Whatever else you accomplish for them, if you fail here, you fail indeed. Do teach a child scholarship, sports, careers, art, etc. But remember, compared to serving Jesus, all of these are no more important than making bobby pins.
This is the best thing a parent or grandparent can do for children. Life is hard. Every child will often need a friend for comfort and guidance. Only one Friend can for a lifetime be ever present, never failing, closer than a brother.
Children, whatever their age, benefit from being brought to Jesus. The effort to influence a child toward faith should not be delayed till a baby is older. Children should never be able to remember a time when they did not love Jesus.
Beware a chief Satanic ploy. He sought to destroy the Bethlehem Babe; he also wants to ruin your child. Some parents and grandparents fall into the devil’s trap of saying they don’t want to unduly force a child’s mind into a mold. Adults say they want their children to be raised in a neutral environment.
Neutral??!!?? What planet are you living on? Nothing is neutral about this culture. Children’s minds are affected by peers at school, TV shows, video games, secular music, etc. Where is the Godly, any chance for neutral, in this?
Parents and grandparents are stewards of little children’s minds. Good parents and grandparents don’t let children choose their own food or books. We shouldn’t let them choose the ungodly either. They’ll have abundant time to make this fatal choice later. The best hope for a successful Christian upbringing is for a child to be influenced by parents and grandparents who know Jesus.
Celebrate and enjoy the God-given innocence of infancy. Use it to gain spiritual advantage. Talk to children often about Jesus. Little ones never scorn or scoff, and can fold their hands in prayer as if the pose is natural to them.
Tell your children and grandchildren stories about Jesus. They will love Him. The whole Bible is rich in stories. I commend them to you. I also recommend you emphasize stories about Jesus. Always stay close to the Gospels. Let them be your primary text. Years ago I chose Matthew to preach through because it is my dad’s favorite Bible book, and even more important, I wanted my preaching always to stay close to Jesus. I am jealous for Him.
I urge you to do the same for children. Stories of Jesus’ birth, childhood, kindness, death, and resurrection are the heart and soul of Christian nurturing.
Let me suggest you have your special times for Bible stories and prayer immediately before going to bed in the evening. Every night before bedtime is a wonderful time because your children and grandchildren, who like to delay going to bed, will be motivated to help you remember it is Bible time. By the way, during this special time, let your children hear you pray out loud for them.
Children should nightly go to sleep with three truths emblazoned in them. Jesus loves them; they should love Jesus; parents expect them to love Jesus.
In Jesus’ day, Jewish parents routinely brought children to the synagogue for elders and rabbis to pray over. We use this tradition by dedicating babies.
We know what the parents asked rabbis to pray for, and thus know what they would have asked Jesus to pray. They made a triple request for their child: to grow strong in the law, to be faithful in marriage, to abound in good works.
These three are still worth praying. One, ask God to help your children grow strong in the Bible; teach them to love it. Two, plead with the Lord for your child to know what God’s will might be for them with regard to marriage; if they are to remain single, pray God will keep them pure; if they are to marry, pray God will give them unbounded joy in it. Three, ask God to remind your children and grandchildren holiness matters most; may God keep them from sin.
Parents and grandparents, do not be duped by Satan. The wholly devoted teaching of Godly ancestors can affect a child for Jesus for a lifetime. Timothy, one of Paul’s most effective helpers, was taught from childhood by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (I too am indebted to a Godly Grandma Lois).
What a blessing it is to have Christian forebears. When did I last thank God for my two Godly parents and four Godly grandparents? Shame on me.
Parents and grandparents, do not abdicate this responsibility. Our church is not responsible for raising your children for Jesus. We can at best only help you do this. You alone are ultimately responsible for your child’s spirituality.
It’s interesting to study how USA churches’ understanding of Christian parenting can swing from one extreme to the other. Nowadays we tend to put too little responsibility on parents. In an earlier era, the grandfather of the retail magnate J.C. Penny was excommunicated from a Baptist church for advocating Sunday School; parents in the church said the spiritual raising of their children was none of the church’s business. Somewhere between the two extremes lies the best method. We’ll help you, but you must do your best, and take the lead.
Matthew 19:13b But the disciples rebuked them.
Don’t be harsh in judging the Apostles, for at least three reasons. One, the disciples were merely products of their raising. Jesus’ interest in children was strange and new to everyone, including the Twelve. They wanted Jesus to be honored, and in their way of thinking, children were beneath Christ’s dignity.
Two, they were rightly concerned about Jesus’ stamina. He was tired and busy. Of the masses vying to touch Jesus, children seemed easier to keep away. Jesus needed protection from intrusions; who could be most easily held at bay, spectators, sick adults, religious leaders? No. Children were easiest to block.
Three, we do the same thing by whom we don’t invite to come to Jesus. Are we not as selective as they were, making this kind of judgment every day?
Many unbelievers don’t come because no believer invites them. We are wrong to decide, by action or inaction, who should be invited to come to Jesus. There must be free access to Him. The path to Him must be offered to all by us.
We prove our proclaimed worth for Jesus when we bring not only ourselves, but also others, to Him. We are stewards of our influence. Many have never given theirs to Jesus. It is one offering that often never gets offered.