“‘Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God is theirs.'”
Mark Evangeliet 10-14
Jesus is the Son of God from birth. We become children of God through baptism. That is why Jesus gathers us already as little ones. We know the words so well, for they are read at every baptism in the church.
But the disciples are shaken by the way Jesus receives the children. He does not receive them lovingly because children possess special knowledge or special godliness. But they immediately have an open attitude to Jesus and the kingdom of God. They let themselves be carried and led to Jesus, neither more nor less.
Children need to learn a lot. This is how it is in relation to adulthood and the world we are to enter into. But now Jesus says emphatically, so that it has never since been forgotten: This is not how it is in relation to God! Here we are whole people, no matter how small and uneducated we are. And by the way: Also how fragile and senile we are at the other end of life!
But why baptize children, small and innocent as they are? Yes, for evil and selfish is not just something we become as adults. It is present already in infancy.
We of all ages need baptism for the remission of sins! We must live by it and live in it, from the time we are small until we are old and senile. I am a “hereditary sinner” all my life. For sin is not just the evil words and deeds I invent, but a condition I have inherited from my ancestors and pass on with my genes to my children and grandchildren. We can in no way unravel ourselves from the vicious circle called sin, death and the devil.
Jesus will deliver us from this vicious spiral! And he uses baptism as a tool. In baptism we are moved from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son! As the apostle Paul writes. In baptism we surrender ourselves and each other to God.
The words today are not just dear and familiar words that we hear at baptism in the church. Those are eternally crucial words! We must not hinder, but actively bring everyone in to Jesus so that he can touch us blessingly.
It happens in the laying on of hands by baptism. And every time we gather for worship, we again receive God’s blessing with us. And we are renewed in the childlike relationship with God.
Thomas Kristensen is pastor emeritus.
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