Children of the Bible, Part 14 by Allan McGuirl
We have looked at many different accounts of how children have played an important role in the lives of families and their relationship with Jesus. Did you know that the word “children” appears in the Bible 459 times? Still, many more times they are referred to as “sons” and “daughters” and “offspring,” etc. This alone speaks to their importance in God’s economy.
I was looking at a well-known passage in Mark 10:13-16, where we see mothers bringing their children to Jesus. We also read parallel accounts of this in Matthew 19 and Luke 18. The mothers wanted Jesus to touch their children – in other words, to bless them. These mothers recognized that Jesus was God in the flesh. Just as parents want the best for their children in every way, these mothers wanted the best for the spiritual lives of their children. They wanted them to be impacted by Jesus.
However, the disciples had a much different outlook. They saw children as an interruption to Jesus’ great work. To them the children were a distraction who shouldn’t be allowed to bother Jesus. I can just see them, heading off the scampering children and the mothers carrying their babies and toddlers – rounding them up and shooing them away. Why would Jesus want His great sermons and healings disrupted by children milling around Him, not to mention the noise and confusion they would create? Wow! They had it all wrong.
Jesus didn’t rebuke the children. He rebuked the disciples. Can you see the expressions on the faces of the disciples as Jesus sternly told them not to send them away but to allow the children to come to Him? Better still, can you see the expressions on the faces of the mothers and children when Jesus summoned them to come near and took the children in His arms and blessed them? Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I tell you, that unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus wasn’t telling them to revert to their childhood physically. He was pointing out the fact that the child is so trusting. We need child-like faith to trust in Jesus. As the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, as the Truth, the Way and the Life, we can trust Him implicitly, just as a child trusts his guardian. A child trusts his parent, because any decent parent provides for the needs of his child. They nurture, love and encourage him or her. In the same way, we can trust Jesus because He is the one who provides for us, nurtures, loves and encourages us.
The disciples also asked Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus took a little child and placed him in the midst of them saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me.” Jesus clearly stated that it is the “lowly position” or humbleness of the child that makes him great in God’s kingdom. Humility is not weakness; it is showing proper respect to one another and especially to God. There is no place for arrogance in God’s kingdom. We have nothing to be proud of except to acknowledge that Jesus has paid it all. He is the one who redeems us from our own sinfulness. As Paul says, we only boast in the cross of Christ. As little children, we place our hand in His and follow Him.
This point came home to me so vividly recently. I enjoy taking my grandson, Caleb, out for a walk at times. He takes hold of Grandpa’s hand, trusting me to safely lead him across the road. He hangs on as we navigate our way through city streets. Just the other day we were walking through a parking lot. A lady suddenly backed up just a few feet in front of us without looking. I grabbed Caleb and jumped back quickly. The lady, realizing her mistake, stoped and apologized for not seeing us. Just as I protected Caleb, Jesus is there to protect us along life’s way as we put our trust in Him.
An interesting thing about Jesus blessing the children is that the entire transaction was out of their hands. It was their mothers who brought them; it was Jesus who chose to bless them. They were just the recipients of the blessing of the Son of God. In the same way, it is God who draws us to His Son: it is Jesus the Son who died for us and forgave us. He makes us a child of God as we place our faith in Him. We are truly blessed because of His great love for us. Let us continue to place our hands in His and trust Him to lead us through these coming days and weeks and months. After all, He knows the way.