Jesus was a busy man. His days were filled with teaching, healing, and dealing with opponents. Large crowds pressed upon him and pressing concerns occupied his attention. He constantly had to correct misconceptions of his disciples, especially the Twelve who worked with him every day.
Near the end of his earthly ministry, the disciples were arguing again about who was the greatest in the kingdom (Mark 9:34). That discussion had to get old for the Lord because they just couldn’t seem to get it straight. Once again, Jesus said, “If any man would be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Then he took a little child into his arms and said, “Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in my name, receiveth me…” (Mark 9:36).
It wasn’t too long after as Jesus was immersed in teaching the multitudes (Mark 10:1), that some of the parents brought their little children to Jesus for him to touch and bless them. In spite of what Jesus had so plainly said about “receiving little children” the disciples rebuked the parents for bothering the Master (Mark 10:13). This bothered Jesus, he was moved with indignation toward his disciples, and stated matter-of-factly, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children” (v.14, Sim. Eng. N.T.). He further stated that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” At that point, he took the children in his arms and blessed them (v.16).
What a sight it must have been, Jesus with all the important things he had to do, all the important people he had to see and discuss high matters with and he took the time for little children. He did not just use them as object lessons for his sermons, but truly loved and cared for them. I’m sure it must have been a great drain on his time and energy to take time out for the children, but he was gracious to do so. If I had been a parent living in that time, I think I would have wanted the Lord to hold my sons in his arms and bless them. Can’t you just see the smile on Jesus’ face as he held the little children and infants?
“Let the little children come to me.” It would seem that there is more to the statement than just allowing them to come into his presence to be touched and blessed. Jesus would be concerned with ultimate spiritual welfare of these children and one day would want them to come to him in faith and obedience.
What about the parents who wanted their children to be touched and blessed by Jesus? What parent, in his or her right mind, wouldn’t want God to bless their child and to be in his presence? Good parents today still want that for their children. They want them to become acquainted with Jesus and the Heavenly Father. They want their children to “come to Jesus.”
Jesus is no longer on earth so developing faith in our children by teaching them about the Lord must be a priority. It is the prime responsibility of Christian parents to instill in their children the knowledge of Christ, God, the Bible and the spiritual relationship that is called the church. They read Bible stories to their children just like they read nursery rhymes. They pray with their children and talk with them about Bible principles. They faithfully take them to assemblies where the Bible is taught and worship is performed. They want their children to be comfortable “in the presence of the Lord.”
Can these little children be taught such high and lofty principles? It might astound you what they pick up, even in the nursery class. I heard the other day that toddler Brett taught newcomer Savannah to say “Bible.” He said, “Bible” about a dozen times and she finally said it. How many little children in our society today know how to say “Bible” much less what it’s all about?
Jesus still wants the little children to come to him, but not enough parents are bringing them! Unfortunately, some Christian parents are falling down on this great responsibility. They’ve lost interest themselves and so their children are going to suffer from the loss. Jesus has some choice words for such parents and anyone else who would hinder a child from coming to Christ: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). What greater sin is there than extinguishing the fire of faith in Christ in the heart of a little child? Think about it!
Sometimes, we feel we just don’t have time for the little children. We get so busy with so many “important” things that we don’t find the time to fit the little children into our lives. We don’t intend to neglect or ignore them, but our priorities are mixed up. If Jesus could find time to pick up, caress and bless the toddlers and infants, surely we can show them some attention and affection. Are you any busier than Jesus was?
We need to spend time and affection on little children because Jesus said that when we humble ourselves as little children we are fit subjects for his kingdom. Those who despise the children and the child-like spirit cannot get through the door of the kingdom.
In the words of the children’s song, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…..They are precious in his sight.” Do you love the children? How are you showing it? Do you possess the child-like spirit of humility?