Matthew 19:13-15 – They Watch. They Imitate. They Record!

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 19:13-15

Jesus Blesses the Children

Our children imitate us. Everything that we do; they watch! My children were not different. I have stories of each of them where their eyes have been upon me and they have imitated what I did and it necessarily wasn’t a good thing.

 

With Meghan, it was when she was about 3 years old. She was my shadow at that age. Wherever Daddy went, so went Meghan. Even on Saturdays when I was home from work and doing chores around the house, she was right beside me, imitating. One particular Saturday, I was having attach some kind of wind chime thing to the side of the house and it required the use of a hammer and some nails. You see where this is going already don’t you? Yes, there was a moment when I missed the nail and hit my thumb. If you remember the movie, Christmas Story, and the scene where the son was helping his dad change a tire on the car in the cold of a winter night and the son drops the lug nuts in the snow. As the voice over says, he then uttered the mother of all curse words….fudge. Well, we all know what the kid said reality. When I hit my thumb with the nail, I said “fudge” repeatedly. Meghan was of course worried about her daddy at that moment and was trying to comfort me she was listening for sure. Later, that evening, we had my parents over for dinner, and we were having dessert afterwards. I was trying to make Meghan more independent at an early age so when it was time for dessert we allowed Meghan to assist her mom in getting the dessert to the table. It took longer cause Meghan was carrying the dessert-laden dessert plates over to the table from the kitchen one by one. It was cute. She did really well until…the last plate. Her plate. She was carrying her pie and she lost control of it and it fell out of her hand and landed upside down on the floor. You know where this is going, don’t you? She said what she had heard earlier in the day, the mother of all curse words….yes…Fudge. Talk about being embarrassed! Children are watching and recording!

 

With Taylor, she has always imitiated my daredevil mentality. Not as much of a daredevil now but my daredevil mentality remained with me well into my thirties. When I was in my early thirties is when Taylor was a toddler. Even then if someone said not to do something I would do it. Taylor inherited that from me. So one time when she was staying with my parents, she was on the front porch and she had just seen a TV special the night before about Evil Knievel. She then proceeded to find material around the house while Papa was cutting grass to build her a ramp on the really big front porch of the parsonage where my parents were living at the time in Charleston. You know where this going, don’t you. She tried to jump the shrubs surrounding the front porch on her tricycle. Of course, she didn’t make and landed on top of the bushes. Cut, battered and bruised, she lived out her daddy’s daredevil mentality. Children. Watching. Imitating.

 

These stories of childhood are not necessarily my stellar moments in parenting. We sometimes forget that our children are watching. That’s what leads us to today’s passage. Matthew 19:13-15 says,

 

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

 

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

 

That idea of imitation is what jumps out at me today. I was not saved until I was in my late thirties, thirty-eight years old to be exact. By that time, Meghan was 15 and Taylor was 10. I had already divorced their mother and was remarried and had to that point not lived much of a life worth imitating. But, my friends, the damage we have done to our children may not be repairable through our salvation but we can begin setting new examples. When I look back at my life now, I wish that I had come to Christ sooner not just for my own sake but for the sake of my children. I would have done a whole lot of things differently for sure. I would have made different choices including possibly marrying their mother. But God has a purpose in everything and I would have had kids, probably two girls, but without marrying their mother, they would not have been the unique children that I call Meghan and Taylor. So, our past is past. It becomes part of the testimony of what Jesus can do with a redeemed life. Even if we have been boys and girls behaving badly, Jesus can reclaim it and He can allow us to redeem the example we set before our children, even as they are adult children. They still watch. They still observe. They still imitate.

 

The thing that strikes me here today is not the child-like faith of kids before Christ that most people write about when arriving at this passage (as I will write about that tomorrow morning). Today, though, it is the fact that the parents had their children there before the Lord. Notice that we have thousands of years and the New Testament to tell us who Jesus really is and why His ministry on earth was important. We know that He was the Son of God. We know now 2,000 years later that He was God in the flesh. We know now that He was the Messiah. We have two thousand years of scholarly review and theological meditation on who and what Jesus means to us. But these parents recognized that Jesus was the Messiah right then and there. They did not have the New Testament at that time to tell them this. They understood and knew it from rightly understanding the Old Testament and its prophecies of the Messiah. They were therefore parents who had relationships with God that were meaningful. They knew and obeyed the Lord. They had a real relationship with and a dependence on God. This relationship, not just some religious machinations that they went through, allowed them to understand that Jesus was the Messiah. That is what these children had to imitate was that they had parents who loved the Lord in real and tangible ways. They lived the life of loving God and seeking God’s will and His blessings. This is the legacy that we should strive for with our kids, even if you came to Christ late like me. We should be seen by them talking about the Lord. We should be seen by them praying. We should seen by them living lives that are marked by morality. We should be seen by them living lives where sometimes we have to make tough choices between what is our desire and what is right. We must be seen by them doing what is right in God’s eyes even when it might cost us something. We must be seen by them, above all, loving the Lord. We must live lives where our children say, I know my daddy is a changed man now and what would he do in this situation. We want them to imitate our seeking after the heart of God.

 

The next thing that I see here is that the parents were ones that put their faith into action. They brought their children before Jesus to seek His blessing for them. What good parents are these! You love your children, right? You want nothing less than the best for them. You want them not to make the same mistakes you made. You love them so much that you would do anything to make sure that they grow up with the least amount of pain and suffering possible. What we want most for our children is for them to grow up and be responsible, well-adjusted adults. That’s the whole aim! Look at these parents here in this passage. They are exposing their children to the Son of God. They want them to be near Jesus and at His feet. Should we not be doing the same for our children, especially knowing that they are our imitators. We should expose them to the gospel at every opportunity when they are growing up. We want the best for them, right? What is better than our relationship with Jesus Christ. These kids may have not wanted to go meet Jesus that day. They may have wanted to play with their friends. But these parents made sure that they got to meet Jesus that day. As we see multiple times in the Bible, children were drawn to Jesus. So, I bet that day, that even if the kids had not wanted to go meet Jesus, they were glad they did when they met Jesus. He had a way with kids that captivated them. He is after all God in the flesh. Isn’t that what we should be doing with our kids. Making sure that they are around Jesus. If you have young children, you are lucky. You get to set the standard now. You start family prayers with them. You start Bible reading with them right now even when they are little. Sociological studies prove that many of the behaviors that we have as adults are set by the time we are two or three years old. Watching, imitating. What better gift can we give our children than the gift of a solid foundational relationship with Christ. What better gift that a child not knowing anything other than Jesus being a firm part of their lives from birth. If you are like me and did not come to Christ yourself until you likes were teens and preteens, the example begins now. Let them see you living a changed life where Bible study is important. Let them see in your actions and your words that Jesus Christ is front and center in your life. They are still imitators of us even as adult children (either by gladly doing what we do or by angrily doing the opposite of what we do – even opposite behavior is a form of antithetical imitation). Getting your children to think about Jesus as adults by how our lives have changed is what you want to happen if you are parent like me who came to Christ after your kids were teenagers or adults. Bringing our kids near to Christ is what we should strive for as parents. Getting them close enough to Him so that Jesus can touch their lives. That’s what we want. No greater imitation can we strive for is for them to have seen Christ because we have brought them near to Him.

 

They are watching, imitating, recording everything we do. Even as adult children. Our job is not done when they leave home. They still imitate even then. Let us bring them near to Jesus. Let them see Jesus in us. Amen and Amen.

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