And Jesus Called A Little Child Unto Him
Someone has rightly said that if you take a text out of its context it becomes a pretext. My heading is taken from Matthew ch.18:1 to 3 which reads, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” I will come back to that passage later on.
Around 6.30am on Wednesday 25th. February, six year-old Ivan Cameron, eldest son of David and Samantha Cameron died in Hospital in London. This little boy whom his father described as “My beautiful boy” had suffered from birth with Ohtahara syndrome, a form of cerebral palsy that has epileptic consequences. To see the grief expressed on the faces of his parents as they left the Hospital shortly after his death said it all; this little boy with all his disabilities was loved intensely by his family.
Between 9am and 10am a phone-in program on BBC Five Live was interrupted with an announcement from the Conservative Head Office telling of the death of the Conservative Leader’s son. The subject for the phone-in was immediately dropped and the remainder of that program and others that followed were taken up with this breaking news.
A Press release reported in the Daily Telegraph read, 'Mr Brown's offer to cancel Prime Ministers Questions had been accepted with "gratitude" by Mr Cameron's office despite William Hague, his deputy, being ready to stand in for the Tory leader'. The last time it was dropped was after the sudden death of the Labour leader John Smith in 1994. Mr Cameron's office later announced he would take two weeks compassionate leave to spend time with his wife and two children Nancy, aged five, and Arthur, aged three, who have been told that Ivan has "gone to heaven".
Once again the conscience of the nation was awakened to the value of life, the value of medical care at the point of need, the value of family where true love is right at the centre for everyone in the home.
It struck me quite heavily that this little boy, Ivan, his life and the cessation of it, has accomplished more in speaking to the nation (and possibly the world) than the majority of us will ever do, either politician in Paliament or preacher in pulpit. This defenceless, helpless little fellow has jolted us to realise that there is quality of life even in suffering, and there is a better life in Heaven for those capable of trusting the Lord Jesus Christ, and also those like Ivan that are too young, or incapable of doing so.
I believe David Cameron has every right to tell Nancy and Arthur that their elder brother has gone to Heaven. This is not an empty hope based upon sentiment but upon the unerring Word of God.
In the Bible we read of another father named David who sorrowed the loss of two sons, one a baby, the other a man. The loss of each son was equally grievous for David, he mourned for both, though he knew that one went to Heaven and the other did not.
Bathsheba’s baby lived a short life and died, David said “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2Sam.12:18) The man who wrote Psalm 23 knew where he was going and he knew where his child had gone.
The other son that died was Absalom; he was an adult and tried to usurp the throne from his father. His rebellious life was ended by Joab and one of David’s men reported to the King, “The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2Sam.18:32)
The difference between King David’s two sons was that the baby had not reached an age of responsibility; Absalom had and had turned against God. What a salutary lesson that is for all of us!
Coming back to the text in Matt.ch.18, the corresponding text in Mark ch.9:36 says, “And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them.”
Three other things that Jesus ‘took’ are these. In John ch.6 He took loaves from a lad and fed a multitude of people, He used a lad to be the means of blessing to thousands. May Ivan’s death do the same! In John 13 He took a towel and washed their feet, teaching us a lesson of humility in service. In Mark ch.8:22 He took a blind man by the hand and led him to a better life.
Our text in Matt.18 and Mark 9 tells us that Jesus called a little child unto Him and He took a child and set him in the midst.
What did the Saviour teach us from this? He was showing us that unless we are converted, and we come to Him in childlike faith, trusting Him emphatically for our souls eternal salvation and being with Him in His everlasting Kingdom, unless we do that we shall never get to Heaven, to be received into the loving arms of the one who gave His life on a cross for us. God bless.
Stan Burditt (View from the Pulpit March 09)