(Luke 18:15-17 HCSB) 15 Some people were even bringing infants to Him so He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 Jesus, however, invited them: “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of a timely rebuke. In Luke 17, Jesus instructed His disciples to rebuke their Christian brothers who were guilty of sin. The purpose of the rebuke was to move the offender towards repentance so that forgiveness could be experienced. He encouraged them to be patient and committed to the process of restoration. He instructed, “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4 HCSB) Clearly, Jesus was serious about the importance of a timely rebuke.
In Luke 18, we are exposed to an example of an untimely and inappropriate rebuke. Yesterday, I suggested that we don’t like to give rebukes, nor do we like to receive them. But, that is only partially true. Let me explain. We live in a world that is contrary to Scriptural principles. Whether it is abortion, addictions, pre-marital and extra-marital sexual activity, stealing, killing, etc.–anything that rubs against the grain of our beliefs–we feel the need to “rebuke” those who are involved in these activities. We post angry comments on social media, memes which support our “Christian” viewpoints; political rants designed to “rebuke” those who have a different opinion.
In Luke 17, the rebuke was timely and appropriate because it was an interaction between Christian brothers and sisters. But, the rebuke given by the disciples in Luke 18 was focused on people who had not yet become Believers. Obviously, they were intrigued by the ministry of Jesus, but they were simply “flirting” with him. They wanted to see what He had to offer, so they brought their children “so He might touch them.” The disciples became frustrated with the extra attention, and the additional effort required to maintain the crowd.
Their rebuke missed the mark on at least two accounts. First, it was motivated by selfish frustration rather than love. Second, they rebuked unbelievers who did not realize they were doing anything wrong.
Jesus turned this experience into a teachable moment by “inviting” them to see the situation as an opportunity for ministry. He told them, “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” He was not at all disturbed by the additional work that the children and their parents created for him. Jesus gently “rebuked” the “rebukers” for their inappropriate and untimely “rebuke!”
PRAYER: Give me the wisdom and desire to see the kingdom of heaven through the eyes of a child. Provide discipline and discernment as I interact with individuals in my circle of influence; discipline to know when to speak and when to remain silent, and discernment to know the difference! Amen.