When Jesus said “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” his disciples were indignant. They didn’t understand what he was trying to teach them. But what was so shocking about this statement at the time? And do we really understand what he was trying to say ourselves?
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”
Mark 10:14 (NRSV)
It is children who often teach us how to live. Jesus highlighted them as examples to be followed. Children are vulnerable, naturally full of wonder, energy and trust. Through their vulnerability, they exude humility and call us to be the most loving we can be. It brings out the nature of Christ in us.
When Jesus taught, people would sometimes bring their children to him, asking him to bless them. The disciples didn’t like that and pushed them away. Jesus’ message was important, they weren’t.
Jesus though was indignant at the disciples’ attitude towards children. He was indignant because he loved children and saw them as equal to adults.
Jesus’ talk of what the kingdom of God is like was completely opposite to the prevailing expectation of his time. Many people had been waiting in expectation for the kingdom of God to be established, a lot of them through a violent overthrow of the Romans. However, Jesus is saying that if we want to be part of what he is about, we need to become like children.
We live in a world where children’s voices are still not heard and respected as they should be. Jesus however, identified so closely with children that he equated welcoming them with welcoming him. Jesus served children, and we are to serve them.
In situations of poverty, and when emergencies strike, children are the most vulnerable. They are often abused and exploited. The heart of God is always for the weak and vulnerable. It is no surprise then that Jesus would welcome little children with open arms, just like he welcomed and dined with ‘sinners’ and other outcasts in society.
Jesus does not mince words when it comes to the care and love of children. When talking about those who mistreat anyone who is outcast, he even said it would be better for that person to have a millstone tied around their neck and they be thrown into the sea!
Children are to be listened to and shown that they are loved beyond measure. We are to care for them with humility and learn from them in their Christlike wonder and awe at life. Children often respond without inhibition and fear to what is around them. They don’t have the baggage that tends to weary us in adult life.
The next time we encounter children, let’s behold their wonder and how they respond to the beauty of life. Let’s try to have their attitude, because as we do so, we will be adopting the attitude of Jesus himself.
- What are some words that come to mind for you when you think of little children?
- Think of a time in your life when children came to you and needed help when you were busy. What was your response?
- Next time a child comes to you, commit yourself to respond like Jesus did. How can you bless a child?
IDEA FOR APPLICATION…
Think of any children you know, whether they be your own or someone else’s. List some of the characteristics of those children. Think particularly about which of the characteristics that you see in them are Christlike. See the good in them and talk amongst your group about specific things you can do to imitate them in their attitudes and behaviours.