Bringing Children to Jesus

“Let the children
…..come to me,
……….and do not hinder them,
…..for to such belongs
the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 15:16)

Jesus is often pictured with a child or children. His love for children is used as evidence for infant baptism. After all, aren’t we bringing our infants to Jesus in paedobaptism and paedocommunion?

Well, let me ask you, in that tender picture, who is the one wearing the robe? It is Jesus. He is a better Adam, representing the Father as the Father is. He is the Great Servant (High Priest) who has the run of the Father’s house, with access through the veil.

Baptism is a robe of office which vindicates repentance and faith. The Table is a weekly means of maintaining that repentance and faith. The New Covenant sacraments are for mediators, not those mediated to.

So, Baptism and Table are not for infants. The sacraments do not “bring us to Jesus” but give us access to the Father as brothers and sisters of Jesus. We, the baptized (robed) mediate that access as Jesus’ body. Our children come to Jesus in us, and we represent them before the Father on the mountain. We, the regenerate, can stand the fire because we are the fire.

That is also the picture we are given in Exodus 24. To “enrobe” infants and bring them into the courtroom of God is to expose them to the stoicheia, the “elements,” directly, instead of carrying them on our mediatorial robes, sheltered under our wings.

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7 Responses to “Bringing Children to Jesus”

  • Chris W Says:

    Hi Mike,

    That’s a lot more positive than the usual stuff you write about baptism. We become baptismal mediators so that we can be effective witnesses to our children and to others. That’s good because it means that baptism still involves our children as being ‘under our wings’ (much like the rest of humanity). We bring out children to Jesus by bringing them to ourselves.

    I’m still wondering though, in light of Romans 6, how you can advocate for the rebaptism of those previously baptised in infancy? Through baptism we die to sin, but through faith we walk in newness of life. A person baptised in infancy does not need rebaptism, they need faith to complete the process. I am not arguing from a presupposed covenantal hermeneutic, it’s just that the language Paul uses seems to imply that baptism is something unrepeatable.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks Chris – I suppose I have to put wrong baptism to death before I can extol the virtues of right baptism!

    Good question. I think the key is voluntary identification. Israel identified with the sacrificial substitute. When Peter denied Jesus, he refused to identify with the lamb. A voluntary baptism is a public identification with Jesus, an identification which God blesses, as He did the baptism of Jesus (whose baptism and wilderness experience was His identification with Israel, the beginning of “fulfilling all righteousness.”)

    Salvation follows the pattern of the rite of sacrifice (identification/call, knife/division, presentation (facing God openly), holy fire, transformation, vindication and representation/restoration. Infant baptism bypasses the cutting of the heart and the holy fire. As in Eden, it is a means of bypassing the ethics of the Covenant through “magic” (a human miracle) to seize the robe for the flesh. It becomes a security blanket instead of a robe of office. So, yes, I would rebaptize. A public witness/confession/identification is required. That is the kind of baptism that is unrepeatable. It is not the blessing of nature (first birth) but the conferring of super-nature, a mediatorial role delegated by the Church.

    Well, I guess that puts the negative comments back in the black!

  • Chris W Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Sorry to come back to an old post like this, but I’ve had some further thoughts. Could Jesus’ statement ‘to such belongs the kingdom of God’ refer to the children of Israel’s future inheritance as the ‘next generation’? Jesus repeatedly condemned the unfaithful current generation (like the one in the wilderness), but it was the next generation who inherited the land. Maybe Jesus is speaking ahead of time regarding the faithful generation of Jews who would come to faith in the 50s and 60s and be brought into the New Creation in 70AD as martyr-witnesses?

    The structure would go something like this:

    TRANSCENDENCE (revelation from God)
    “Let the children”
    HIERARCHY (Jesus as mediator)
    “come to me”
    ETHICS (teach the next generation the things of Christ)
    “and do not hinder them”
    SANCTIONS (if they obey)
    “for to such belongs”
    SUCCESSION (they are the future of the kingdom in the revival)
    “the kingdom of God”

    All of this would make that particular generation of Israelite children special, because to them would be granted unique kingdom promises particular to that phase of history. “You and your children” in Acts would have basically the same meaning – “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40), as I think you have suggested elsewhere.

    As a side note, I think you mean Luke 18:16, not 15:16.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks Chris – glad for the feedback.

    In the literal wilderness, the “next generation” was physical – Israel’s actual children.

    The move in the first century used all the physical and social types but was primarily ethical – a movement to the heart. The next generation in this case was REgeneration. Covenant succession became the domain of the Spirit, who could jump across family, social and national lines without a by-your-leave. Certainly, the Gospel is carried by families and other social institutions, but they are just empty vessels.

    Regarding the next generation, the FINAL generation, of Israel according to the flesh, Jesus told the women to weep for their children. The infants of believers were rescued because they were warned, but that was because they were in the care of a new Israel, which is a bond of Spirit not flesh. So I really like your point about letting the children come to Jesus. The Jews kept their children from him, and those children were destroyed – 6000 in one hit, according to Josephus.

    Yes, “you and your children and those afar off” is all Jews at that time. The promises to Abraham were being fulfilled once for all. They could be a part of that or be left behind, like Lot’s wife.

    Nice to see somebody new doing matrix stuff!

  • Chris W Says:

    Hi Mike,

    I’m aware that the next generation in the first century were defined ethically (internal law) rather than physically. But didn’t the apostle Paul talk about a restoration of physical Jews in the first century (Romans 11)? Didn’t John do the same thing in the Revelation (6th trumpet)?

    My point is that Jesus knew that many of these children would go on to become a crucial part of ‘the next generation’, as it were – that there would be a revival amongst the Jews. They’re exactly the right age now, that when 60-70AD arrived they would be about 30-40. By the time the restoration occurred, the children that Jesus is holding now would not be children anymore! Notice how “the kingdom of God” is at ‘succession’ – they are the only future of physical Israel left to be redeemed.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    It’s true about the physical children, but the new Israel was a Jew-Gentile one. So this next generation was actual converts. In baptism, Jewish and Gentile heredities were left behind.

  • Chris W Says:

    Yes, that’s all I meant really. Jesus is not saying that the children are already believers because of their heredity, it’s just that in thirty years time many of them would go on to become believers and bold witnesses. His statement about the kingdom of God would then relate only to that unique period of history between 30 and 70 AD.