“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.”
Matthew 19:13-15 ESV
Once again, this is one of those passages that just seems so obvious to us that it’s easy to gloss over. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world...” Of course, the disciples were being too uptight in keeping the children away from Jesus. That being said, I don’t think that most of us would have a much different response if we were in their position.
For those of us who have children or have already raised them and released them out into the world, you probably understand the social pressure that comes with parenthood. Our culture tends to see children as cute inconveniences. Kids get in the way of our plans. Toddlers throw tantrums at the most inopportune times. Children have no concern for decorum, for civility or for status. Childhood today seems like it is something that needs to be stifled and mitigated until maturity starts to set in. Our culture is task oriented, goals focused and driven to succeed. In fact, a number of prominent women in our culture have been particularly outspoken about how their choices to end the lives of their own children have freed them to have the lives that they wanted to live. They attribute their successes in large part to their infanticide.
We know that this is all wrong, and yet we continue on in small ways affirming this same mentality. In our church gatherings we shuffle kids off to children’s church so that we can have a civil adult service without the distractions. We (hopefully) attempt to train and disciple them to follow Jesus in the few moments we have after work, between meals and when they’re not driving us so crazy that we just need a few moments to ourselves. At the same time, we thoughtlessly send them off to be discipled by the world for at least eight hours a day by a school system that doesn’t share our faith, our values or our goals.
As a father, my goal is not only to let my children come to Jesus, but I also want to be careful not to hinder them from doing so in any way. Jesus loves our children more than we do. They are never a burden, an annoyance or a distraction. In fact, if we want to be able to come to Him at all, we need to come to Him the same way that they do.
2 “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” - Matthew 18:2-4
We seem to have this idea that we have something valuable to offer Christ in our service, our skills, our wisdom, our wealth. We have nothing. We know nothing. We’re kids. If we look at Jesus’ response to the disciples with any amount of surprise or even like He is doing them such a favor, we’re missing the whole point. Those children are us. The ones with nothing to offer and our sin was far more than an inconvenience to Him, and yet He bids, “let the little children come to Me.”