Getting Closer to Jesus
How do we draw ourselves closer to Jesus? In today’s sermon, we take a look at the traits of a child and what we can learn from those traits to draw us closer to Jesus.
About a week ago, a good friend checked in on me to see how I was doing and asked was there anything she could pray for. I believe it’s a wonderful thing when you have friends that will seek to keep you uplifted in prayer. We should certainly keep such friends close to us. I answered: health, strength, energy and joy. I then asked how she was doing and if there was anything I could pray for – her answer absolutely blew me away.
This good friend of mine said she wants to be closer to God. I want you to know that she is already a woman that is full of faith in the Lord but she is looking to draw even closer to God. She said, “I want to be so close that I can smell Him”. This is truly a wonderful prayer; it is a prayer that I believe all of us genuine believers should have.
What I want to focus on in today’s sermon is our closeness to the Lord. For us to draw nearer to the Lord, we must have faith like that of a child.
Adult perception vs. child perception
Why must we have faith like that of a child? To get us started, I want to take a look at our key verse for today’s sermon.
16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.Luke 18:16 NKJV
What does this mean? What is Jesus trying to say here? Is Jesus saying that there are no adults in heaven? Is heaven only for kids? Though we may not see it yet, Jesus just gave us an answer on how we can draw ourselves closer to Him. Let’s take a look at what’s going on here in this scripture.
In the verse prior, we see that people were bringing their children to Jesus. I think we can assume that these were parents, grandparents, or some form of guardians that were bringing their children to Jesus. They wanted Jesus to lay His hands on the children.
I believe children had a fondness for Jesus. Children can be very perceptive of when they are in the presence of both negative and positive people. When they were coming to Jesus, we notice that the disciples were rebuking the children (Luke 18:15). To this, Jesus says, “do not forbid them”. We must understand what the children represents to Jesus and why they held such high regard in His mind.
Let’s take a look a quick look and compare children to adults
Undoubtedly we would say that adults are far more wiser than children. I believe we would even say that adults are far more capable of accomplishing tasks than children. We say, “with age comes both knowledge and wisdom.” Older me, in theory and in practicality, is smarter than the adolescent me and therefore older me is more capable in accomplishing tasks.
However, as I say this, we make a common mistake with this train of thought. This train of thought leads us to believe that children don’t know what they are talking about most of the time. I used to hate it when adults thought that just because I was child, my feelings and my thoughts did not matter. Thankfully, my parents didn’t treat me that way and would at least listen to me before offering wise advice.
Children have questions about everything. This is partly part of what is so beautiful about a child. Adults hardly ever ask questions. Why? Because we are either afraid to ask questions or we feel we already know the answers to everything. There is little to no dependency there from adults.
Jesus says to us, again, that the kingdom of heaven is of (filled with) little children. We often look at this scripture and the part that sticks out most to us is Jesus saying, “do not forbid them” when He speaks of the children coming to Him. We often take the literal meaning of scripture, but there is still more meaning to this scripture than just the literal meaning.
Understanding the sentiment of child-like faith
For us to understand the meaning of what Jesus is saying, we’re going to do a little digging. Our first stop is going to be a brief stop with a conversation that took place between Nicodemus and Jesus. I often refer to this conversation, and have even preached on it before. I believe I do so because Jesus teaches us essentially all we need to know to enter heaven in this one chapter of the Bible.
Jesus says this to Nicodemus:
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”John 3:3 NKJV
We understand that Jesus is talking about being born again spiritually, not physically. However, we can also see a reference to what is recorded in Luke’s gospel. When we are born, are we born as adults? (The answer to this question is rather easy.) No, we are not born as adults, we are born as children. Children that must learn to crawl before we can walk, and learn words before we can form full and complete sentences.
When we are born again, we start out as adolescents in our faith.
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby1 Peter 2:2 NKJV
Again, the adult is admittedly wiser than the child, but if we want to draw nearer to the Lord we must be willing to humble ourselves.
Jesus uses child to teach important lesson
Ask yourself, what drew people to Jesus? Why would the children go running to Jesus? It was His humbleness – Jesus had great humility towards others. That humility is what drew others closer to Him.
Humility is something that we struggle with a great deal. Even the 12 disciples that closely followed Jesus daily struggled with this. In the gospel according to Matthew, we come across scripture where the disciples ask Jesus, “who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”Matthew 18:1 NKJV
Adults are very stubborn in their way. We have to have a willingness to learn new things and it takes humility to learn new things. The disciples, for whatever reason, was hung up on ambition. Why else would they be asking this question? A child does not think about greatness until they have been seasoned by the world just a little bit. They are about to humbled by Christ.
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:3 NKJV
I’m sure they were surprised to what Jesus did in response to their question. Jesus, we see, calls forth a child to stand with Him in the midst of the group. (Emphasis on the child standing with Jesus). I imagine that this confused the disciples because we don’t consider children to be of great significance (outside of the fact that they are our children).
Yet, Jesus says we must be converted and become as (like) little children. This again is a callback to the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus. No, Jesus is not looking for us to revert back to being children. However, we must be like little children if we are ever going to draw ourselves nearer to the Lord.
Jesus continued and said:
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:4 NKJV
Humility is the key to closeness with Jesus
Have you ever noticed the way children smile about life? Children have such a wonderful appreciation of life. To children, life is all about the next great adventure of playing, having fun, but also learning new things. Such appreciation is lost over time as the child ages into adulthood. As adults we become wary of everything and everybody.
What I mean by this is that adults don’t know who or what they can trust – there’s no safety net, we feel. Adults question everybody, and we would say rightfully so, whereas children have such an innocence of life. They have full confidence in their parents that they have absolutely no worries. Are you close enough to the Lord where you have absolutely no worries in life? Are you close enough to God to where you can live life comfortably – full of happiness and joy?
When we as adults are worried or afraid, we hesitate on who we should turn too. For a child, this decision is very easy – they will call on mom or dad. When a child believes a monster is in the closet or under the bed, they believe that mom or dad isn’t afraid of anything and that they can handle the monster.
We must recognize just how much our lives are dependent on the Lord, just as a child has recognized who they can depend on. A child will draw closer to his or her parents while the maturing teen seeks to be independent of their parents. Of course people of all ages can make it into heaven. However, there must be a conversion of the mind to understanding that we cannot make it there if we do not depend on the Lord.
Notice that the kingdom of heaven is not made up with those who are as the teenager or the adult in their heart, but those who are as a child.
Again, I think back on the joy and happiness that a child has towards life. Children have absolutely no worries about anything. Why? Because they know mom and dad are going to provide for them. Again, I consider the joy and happiness that children have towards life. Why? Because they are not fearful of anything because they believe mom and dad can take care of anything that frightens them.
I say to all of us today, we genuine believers have a heavenly Father that cares for us in the same manner. We cannot be independent of our Father and live a life where we feel safe in our happiness and joy. We must humbly draw ourselves closer to the Lord as a child will draw close to his or her parents. In the Lord’s care we will find happiness; we will find happiness in what He provides; we will find happiness in His protection.
I urge us to be like my friend today, pray a prayer to draw nearer to the Lord. Pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that they also draw closer to the Lord.