He valued them and honored them by using them to illustrate the type of faith needed to enter into heaven—faith like a child.
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13–16)
You may have heard the story about the mom with three rambunctious little boys. A friend asked her if she had it to do all over again would she have three children. She thought about it a moment, and responded, “Yes.” She paused and then said, “Just not the same three.”
If you are a parent, there have most likely been days when you felt the same way. I have done my share of complaining about my kids when they were irritable, rowdy, or uncooperative. No matter the age or stage, those days will come.
The accounts of Jesus with children are numerous throughout the Gospels. In Mark 10:13–16 we read of parents who traveled to bring their children to him so that he would touch and bless them. However, the disciples tried to keep these folks away from Jesus. Did they think children were a disruption or distraction? Did they believe children were not as important as adults? We do not know the disciples’ true feelings about children, but we do know the feelings of Jesus toward them: He loved and welcomed them. He did not become exasperated with the children; he became exasperated with the disciples for their attitude. He ordered them to stop hindering the parents from bringing the children to him.1
We cannot fault the disciples too much, as they were following the custom of the day. The phrase, “seen and not heard,” was in full force concerning children. Society kept them on the periphery until they became old enough to be useful.2 Jesus went against the status quo and made himself available and attentive to the little ones. He valued them and honored them by using them to illustrate the type of faith needed to enter into heaven—faith like a child.
Our children are never too young to begin introducing them to Jesus. Military chapels and civilian churches have rituals to connect our children to their faith. These ceremonies are important events for children, families, and the faith community. What is most important for our children is that they do not just encounter the disciples and followers of Jesus, but that they have a personal encounter with Jesus. Jesus wants to bless our children, and the greatest blessing they can receive from him is eternal life.
How are you providing opportunities for your children to encounter Jesus? In what ways does your chapel or church make children welcome?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, help me to see my children as a blessing and not a burden. I pray they would know and never doubt their value to our family. I pray they would know and never doubt their value to you. Amen.
1 Robert H. Stein, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 463.
2 Bock, 298.