Follow Me

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. –Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)

During four of the early lessons for my English students, I read Mark 10:13-16 aloud while they follow along. They then read phrase-by-phrase after me. This means I have now read this passage about 20 times straight through and another 20 times phrase-by-phrase during the past six weeks. The words that jump out at me are the words of Jesus: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” The disciples physically hindered the children. Surely, Jesus’ followers today don’t do that. I wonder, though, if we hinder the little children in other ways.

Do we encourage them to follow Jesus and help them along the way, or do we unintentionally hinder them with our ungodly conversations, our gossiping, our complaining, our bickering, or simply by not ensuring they are able to attend Bible classes or worship services when we can’t go? On those occasions, do we make sure that trusted friends will take them or do they have to stay home because mom or dad can’t take them?

Do we hinder the little children when we teach them that all they need to do to be reconciled with God and live with Him forever is to pray a little prayer and “accept Jesus” into their hearts? Never did Jesus say, “Accept me into your heart.” Never did He say, “Pray this prayer and I’ll save you.” When we teach the little children to “pray this prayer with me” and “accept Jesus into your heart,” are we, in effect, inoculating them against the real Gospel and, therefore, hindering them from coming to Jesus?

What did Jesus say? He said, “Follow Me.” Two simple words, but such a difficult command to obey. He said these words to each of His disciples as He called them. He said these words to the rich young ruler and to the young man who wanted to wait until he had buried his father. In John 12:26, Jesus said,Whoever serves me must follow me.” In Mark 8:34, Jesus told his disciples and the crowd, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

“Deny myself? Take up my cross? Follow Him? No, no, no. Don’t talk to me about such things. I prayed the prayer. I accepted Jesus into my heart. I’m good. I don’t need anything else.”

Is this what happens? Do we hinder the little children by teaching them what Jesus did not say, rather than what He did say?

Jesus said we need to believe in Him, but “belief” is not just an intellectual assent to the existence of Jesus or that He is the Son of God. James said that faith without actions is dead. How can that which is dead give us life? If we believe in Jesus, we must follow Him. As we follow Him, He will teach us more and more about what it means to be His disciple, His follower. As our faith grows, we will worship and adore Him, the one who gave Himself for us. He will teach us what it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross so that we can be His true followers.

There’s a poem called “Little Fellow” that talks about the little eyes that are watching everything we do and little ears that hear everything we say. It’s true. They are watching us and listening to us. What they see in us and hear from us need to be a reflection of Jesus, with His arms open wide and saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.”

The choice is ours. Will we hinder the little children or will we lead them to Jesus? Will we show them what Jesus meant when He said, “Follow Me”?

Heavenly Father, in the name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask you to help me to lead the little children to Him and never to hinder them. Amen.

Copyright © 2012, Star Ferdinand. All Rights Reserved.