1999-07-29 - When a Child Dies
Mark 10:13-14 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (NAS)
The question has been raised about young children and infants who die. Do they go to Heaven? The question is one that hangs over the hearts of parents everywhere. In the last three years, I have known two couples that have suffered this trial. Both have weathered the storm, and neither will be the same in this life. Both have found peace and rest in the will of the Lord.
The Bible is silent on many subjects. There is no commentary on the potential for life on other worlds. It may not matter if Einstein is correct. The Word is almost equally silent on the subject of the eternal destiny of children who pass from this life. Just as the Theory of Relativity may preclude the need for comments on extraterrestrial life, the character of God gives us insight into the heart of God toward children.
Children have no problem with the concept of a God. All of this had to come from somewhere. God answers the question very nicely. The children flocked to Jesus. When the disciples tried to keep the children from Him, He was indignant. This is a very strong term. "How could you even think such a thing would be right!?" is the feeling evoked by the word.
Matt 18:1-6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. (NAS)
Jesus' protective heart toward children is evident here. I have read accounts of a few people who have experienced drowning and lived to tell the tale. Their stories are frightening. There are several places where the Master used children as examples of the faith we must have to enter His eternal kingdom. He blessed the children who where brought to Him. When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter He said, "Talitha kum!", or "Little girl, I say to you, arise!". The phrase "little girl" was a term of endearment. Jesus reminded her stunned, grateful parents that she should have something to eat. Attention to details with children seems to have been important.
The patience that Jesus showed with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 is well known. This learned Doctor of the Law, a leader of Israel, was astounded and confused at Jesus' answers. In verse 10, Jesus seems to lightly rebuke His guest. Nicodemus' questions were honest, seeking questions. The Lord honored those questions with more information than Nicodemus could probably digest completely in one sitting. If Jesus can be that patient with someone who should have known the answers to the questions He asked, His heart toward children who can only begin to understand right and wrong would be very open as well.
There is nothing that speaks directly to the question of the salvation of infants or young children. The question may be one that the Lord never thought needed to be asked in the first place. It should be as obvious to us as Nicodemus' questions should have been to him. In my humble opinion, there is a day when we are confronted with our need for a Savior. There is a day when we can look around us and know that there is more to this world than a random mechanism could build. On that day, the rules change for us. In mercy and grace, Christ calls to this world to come to Him. We who answer the call may find the children already sitting in His lap.
Lord Jesus - This is a delicate topic for many. Comfort those who have suffered this loss with the knowledge that their children wait for them with You, safe and whole. Amen.