“And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
How does Jesus bless our children? As parents, we crave what is best for our sons and daughters. Like these parents in Mark 10:13-16, mothers and fathers today seek Christ’s blessing for their offspring. What is Jesus’ response to these parents? Let them “come unto me,” he says. Christ continues, “and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14) How does Jesus receive these boys and girls? He takes them up in His arms, much as the Shepherd of Isaiah 40:11—“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm.” The Lord Christ lays His hands on these children, an ancient practice which pictured favor and blessing (Genesis 48:14, 18). How does Jesus continue to bless our children? He extends His blessing through the hands of the Church and the Family. We as believing parents and churchmen embrace the status of our children. Even before conversion, they are covenant children, set apart and distinct from the world. How does Jesus bless these children of the covenant? He uses the faithful labors of covenant families and churches. What is our labor? To use the means of grace. How does Jesus bless our children? Through the diligent use of the means of grace. (These thoughts are by no means exhaustive. There are so many useful things that could be said here. Joel Beeke’s book Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace is highly recommended.) How do we use the means?
First, practice family worship. The Lord of the Covenant pours His love and mercy on covenant children through the reading, praying, and singing of the Bible together. Through brief, patient, God-centered worship, children learn from an early age that Christ is the Head of their family and life. By taking 10-15 minutes for this timeless practice, Christ’s blessings of pardon, assurance, and joy are passed on to our sons and daughters.
Second, use the catechisms. What is a catechism? It is a list of questions and answers about God, Man, Christ, Salvation, and the Christian life. There are a number of good catechisms to use; the Presbyterian churches have for generations used the Westminster Shorter Catechism for older children and teens. There are good resources for younger children as well (our congregation uses First Catechism). Through the use of catechisms, we train our children in the vocabulary of the Gospel and language of the Bible.
Third, enjoy the Lord’s Day. Certainly, there are a number of ethical and theological questions about how we ought to use the Lord’s Day. In the very least, however, we can teach our children that the Sabbath is the high point of the week. This day is joy. It is special. We spend the day in public worship and fellowship with one another. We feast on the Word, and our souls are restored. In a culture that wars against Sabbaths, teach your children to enjoy the Lord’s Day. (See Joseph Pipa’s book The Lord’s Day)
Fourth, cultivate spiritual conversation. Many conversations with our young children will playfully consist of Legos, Dolls, and Star Wars! Speak to them also, however, about their souls. Ask them what they love. Talk to them about their enjoyments, their friends, and favorite Bible stories and characters. As they get older, your relationship with them will explore deeper topics. Pray for the Spirit’s leading, and that Christ would use these conversations to warm the souls of our children.
So then, as the Church and Family, what do we offer our children? We present the blessings of Jesus through the means of grace. Joyfully and expectantly bring your children to Christ through these means of family worship, catechisms, enjoying the Lord’s Day, and cultivating spiritual conversation. We pray that in God’s time, our sons and daughters will be led to a soul-deep, life-long love for Christ. May they see the King in all His beauty. “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
May He bless you and yours,
Posted on Thursday // August 4, 2016 // 10:30 AM
by Chris Thomas