************ Funeral Sermon on Luke 18:15-16 for Stillborn Child ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 25, 2003
(Lk 18:15-16) People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. (16) But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Adam and Lora, you have so many questions. You wonder why Patrick Ryan was not given life. You wonder what he would have been like as a baby, as a toddler, as a teen, as an adult. You wonder how his bloodline would have come out in his character, his looks, his personality, his likes and dislikes, his abilities, his mannerisms. You have so many question and no real answers.
And, you wonder about eternity. Where is Patrick Ryan right now? His body is in front of us, but what about his soul – where is it?
Our short Scripture reading from Luke 18 is a very familiar text and yet the point is so often missed. Too often people see this story of Jesus and the children as a sentimental, romantic, and heart-warming incident. They see a Jesus Who loves children because they are so nice and sweet and innocent. But that is not the point at all.
Luke tells us that some parents bring their children to Jesus. They want Jesus to touch their children and thereby change the lives of their children forever.
You see, people of God, touching is a means of bringing a blessing. Think of Isaac – though he was fooled into thinking it was Esau – touching Jacob and blessing him with every sort of blessing. Think of Jacob on his deathbed. His twelve sons and the sons of Joseph come before him and he touches each one and blesses them with all sorts of wonderful blessings. Think of Jesus touching someone or being touched by someone. When the women who was bleeding for 18 years touched Jesus, the life and healing power and strength of Jesus flowed into her. When Jesus touched a man born blind he was given sight. When Jesus touched a man with leprosy he was healed. Whenever Jesus touches someone that someone is changed in some way. Somehow the life of Jesus flows in and to and through them.
Some parents, then, want Jesus to touch their children. But we read that the disciples chase them away. After all, they consider Jesus to be very important and busy, and they know that children can be bothersome. They want to keep Jesus free to attend to more important matters. They do not think children are important enough to receive Jesus' attention.
When Jesus admonishes the disciples for their behavior, notice what He says: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them." Why does Jesus command this? Jesus gives us the answer in the next line: "for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." This is the whole point of this passage. The children of believing parents are not received by Jesus as being little heathens who need to be converted. They are not received by Him as being outside of the covenant. They are not received by Him as being outside of the church and salvation. Jesus teaches (and this is no new message because we find it all over the Old Testament) that the kingdom of God also belongs to the children of believing parents, however weak the faith of the parents may be. And as Christian parents, our children too are sons and daughters of the kingdom of God.
Adam & Lora, what does it mean that our sons and daughters belong to the kingdom of God? What does it mean that Patrick Ryan is part of the kingdom? It means you do not have to doubt or wonder or worry about where he is. He is with Jesus. There is no doubt about his election and salvation.
Adam and Lora, in your sorrow and in your loss, remember that Patrick Ryan is with the Lord. And, that means a place of no crying, no weeping, no tears, no dying, no death, no mourning, no pain, no suffering, no hunger, no strife, no warfare, no conflict. And, that means a perfect place, a place of joy and peace and love and hope ...
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