READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l We are God’s beloved child. We can love and embrace God the Father by loving His son. There are two aspects of Jesus that are pertinent to the sacrament of infant and child baptism.
Jesus’s tender heart for children
Jesus always showed a tender side to the children. He was gentle, kind, always welcoming and never too busy to embrace the little ones. God’s love and grace is for everyone, including the little children. This is reflected in the hymn ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children’. Jesus was indignant when his disciples tried to keep the children away. He said to such belongs the kingdom of God; and whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it. Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Jesus emphasizes the value of having a childlike faith. “Whoever receives one child like this, in my name, receives me. And whoever receives me does not receive me, but Him our Father, who sends me,” Jesus tells us not to despise the little ones. Jesus wants all his beloved children to come to Him and to experience his father’s love.
We can reach out to the children for Jesus in three ways. By listening to them without judgment, teaching them through role modelling and by being there for them at all times. Our father, who is always with us, will work a divine connection between us and our loved ones.
Jesus reminds us that we need to receive the kingdom of God like a child. He expects us to do things His way, and not in our own way. He can be counter-cultural; for the wide gate and broad path leads to destruction, while the narrow gate and the difficult way leads to eternal life, so few even find it. We need a childlike faith to trust Jesus to guide and lead us, especially in raising our children. Our father in heaven is there for us always, when we call out to Him. We simply have to trust Him like a child, fully expecting our father to catch us when we take the plunge into His loving arms.
Baptism is an outward sign that the child belongs to the church of God, with the seal of the Holy Spirit’s work within the child. Without our Father’s permission, no forces of evil can touch our children or thwart God’s plan for them.
Baptism of Jesus
At Jesus’s baptism, God the father did something precious and life-changing. This gave Jesus the strength and resolve to fulfil God’s will unreservedly. Knowing that he was the beloved son of the living God kept Jesus from falling into sin when he was tempted. It also sustained him in the ups and downs of his earthly life. In the transfiguration, God the father declared that Jesus is His beloved son and that we are to listen to him. We need to listen to what Jesus is saying to us today. He is with us always, even to the end of the age.
When the going gets tough, the tough beloved children of God surely can get going, because our true identity is in Christ Jesus. He loves us for who we are, rather than what we can do for Him and for His children. God is saying “My beloved child, with you I am well pleased!”
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Reflect on each of the three stanzas of the hymn, Jesus Loves The Little Children.
a. Which stanza/s resonated with you? Why?
b. What can you do regarding it/them?
- Reflect on Mark 10:13-16 (Jesus and The Children)
a. Why was Jesus greatly displeased with His disciples for shielding Him from the children and parents?
b. What are the actions we do with good intentions, but may be potential stumbling blocks for others, especially our children?
c. What are some practical steps we can live by, that will point the way for our young ones, to live their lives for Christ too?
- List the three ways mentioned by the preacher to reach out to others and the children for Jesus.
a. Which ones resonate with you? Why?
b. Who would you practice these suggestion/s with this week?
c. What other ways can we think of to reach out to others for Jesus?
- Infant and Child Baptism Service (ICBS)
a. What does ICBS mean for parents and/or sponsors?
b. What does ICBS mean for the congregation?
c. Would you dedicate your child/children to God through ICBS? Why or why not?
- Reflect on Mark 1:9-11 (The Baptism of Jesus)
a. Do you believe that Jesus is the Beloved Son of God? Why?
b. Our Father asked you to “Listen to Him” through the Transfiguration story of Jesus (Mk 9:2-8). What is Jesus saying to you today?
c. How does knowing you are God’s beloved help you deal with your self-esteem and rejection?