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10.04.09 Standing Together Before God, Mark 10:13-16, Hebrews 1:1-4 & 2:10-12, Psalm 26:8-12 Sermon Summary

by on October 7, 2009

Why did Jesus put a child before the disciples as the prime example of what it means to follow him? The answer may be difficult for us to understand today. This past week I was reminded of how valuable children are for most people in our culture. Kyndra and I received our bill for the birth of our son. Extraordinarily valuable, by that measure!

I was also reminded how fragile and vulnerable children are. Our good friends’ son AJ was taken to Children’s Hospital and put on life support. He’s making slow progress, but the past week has been agonizing for his parents and friends.

In Jesus’ day, parents loved their children as much as parents love them today. But they didn’t value them as much. At least not till later, after they had survived infancy and could contribute to the work of the family.

Not only were they valued less, children in Jesus’ day were additionally vulnerable because they had no rights. And so it is especially scandalous that Jesus would offer up a child—someone of questionable worth, someone especially vulnerable—as the exemplar for discipleship.

Maybe Jesus did this because he saw in his future and in himself the same characteristics of the child of his day. At the end of his life, he would fall victim to a religious and political system that didn’t value him. He would suffer as one with no rights.

Jesus would suffer as a child of his day. And the reason he places the child before his disciples is that those who follow him will suffer in the same way. The system does not recognize the value of following Christ, and we will suffer for it.

But even though Jesus suffered as a child of his day, he trusted God. And he did so because Jesus saw himself not just as a child of his day, but as a child of God. And the book of Hebrews teaches us that it was because of his suffering, and his trust, that we recognize Jesus as the child of God today.

Hebrews goes on to say that he who sanctifies and those sanctified have the same divine parent. This means that as followers of Jesus we will not only suffer, but we will also become children of God.

For this reason, Jesus points to the child of his day as the exemplar of discipleship. Like that child, like Jesus, we will suffer, but God will redeem our lives.

We experience that redemption now, in the midst of our suffering, because we do not suffer alone. Jesus is with us. Hebrews says that after Jesus made his sacrifice (by suffering), he ceased to stand and instead sat down. But the word for resurrection in the Newer Testament is anistemi, to stand up. So Jesus stood, suffered, sat, and now stands with us again.

This is why we can say, with the Psalm, that we stand on level ground in the great assembly. We do not suffer alone, we do not stand alone. We stand together before God, with Christ and with one another.

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