Lesson 4: Compassionate Hospitality

To understand how God looks at humanity, look in the eyes of parents who have been wounded by their children. There is disappointment, yes, but there is an overwhelming longing to embrace and love a thousand times deeper than any anger.

– Roger Marks

Devotion: Read Luke 18:15-17. Children are considered unimportant and even disposable by the powerful in many cultures. Caring for infants is considered low value and low wage work. Jesus not only welcomes infants, or “children” as Mark puts it (Mk 10:13), he says they are a model for adults to emulate. Jesus wants us to be as open and receptive as children are to blessing and love. Children may become ruined by the cynicism and meanness of adults, but when treated with love and affection, they respond with love and affection. Followers of Jesus cannot treat children as an annoyance, small adults, or property. They are a sign of the presence of God. How were children viewed in your family or origin? What can we learn from children about submission, dependence, humility, and openness in our relationship with God?

Personal Worship Option: Read Matthew 18:10. Jesus teaches a very common belief in Judaism, that children, along with all the righteous, have representatives in the spiritual realm that communicate their needs to God. Just as your physical body has an intelligence beyond your awareness (your heart pumps, your stomach functions, your lymph system works without your conscious control), so there is more going on in your spiritual life than you are consciously aware. Your spirit, and perhaps your angel, communicates to God your longings and needs beyond your words. So sit quietly in the presence of God for just a few moments and rest.

Dig A Little Deeper:

18:15 There is great benefit from studying scripture as we are, one isolated passage at a time. However, other forms of study are equally beneficial. For instance, read Luke 18:9-14, 18-30 to see today’s pericope in the context Luke places it. How do these three passages work together to teach what it means to receive the kingdom of God?

The disciples’ efforts to prevent parents from bringing the children reflects a common attitude toward the young in this culture. The disciples feel blessing children is a waste of Jesus’ time. Our own culture speaks out of both sides of its mouth about the value of children. What evidence can you offer to suggest we value children? What evidence is there we neglect children? What evidence is there we value children who look like we do and ignore those who do not look like us?

18:16 Jesus does not say the kingdom of God belongs to children, but it belongs to those who receive the reign of God as children receive blessings. What adjectives describes how children receive love, care, blessing, etc.?

18:17 The strength of Jesus’ language is surprising. He is not saying we have much to learn from children. He says UNLESS we learn to be like children we will not be a part of God’s future. Reread Luke 18:14. Why is humility so important and pride so deadly in a relationship with God?

How is this statement, in one sense, an answer to the question put to Jesus in Luke 17:20?

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