I must admit to saying how much joy being a grandfather has been for me. It’s a tremendous experience to see your grown-up children have children of their own. It’s difficult to put it into words, but if you’re a grandparent like me you’ll know what I mean. I don’t want to specifically talk about the joys of being a grandfather, but I do want to share something of how children were a blessing and took a priority with Jesus.
We all were children at one stage—stating the obvious—but in the day of Jesus they weren’t looked on favourably. In fact they were considered a nuisance. Not so with Jesus. Jesus took the time to minister to children. On the two occasions when he fed large groups of people—5,000 men one time and 4,000 on another day—he also fed children. And, it was a young boy who gave him the fish and bread which launched one of the miracles in the first place. In Matthew 18, Jesus called a little child to him and had him stand among the disciples. It strikes me that Jesus didn’t have to go looking for a child—there was obviously one right nearby. I think there were children with Jesus all the time. When Jesus made his last entry into Jerusalem, it was the children who shouted out, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:15 – NIV).
And then in Mark 10:13-16 (CEV) we read this:
Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But His disciples told the people to stop bothering him.
When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God’s kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does.” Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them.
That’s a special passage because it tells us what Jesus thought of kids—he loved them. And since they mattered to Jesus, they should matter to us. The people on this day were bringing little children to Jesus—it was a customary thing, and happened all the time. It wasn’t a one-off thing.
These parents knew that kids mattered to Jesus. They knew that their kids would be welcome—and would be prayed for and blessed by Jesus. They didn’t even think twice about it. They weren’t worried about Jesus turning his back on them—or their kids. I’m sure they had noticed how Jesus had treated children on many different occasions. They no doubt wanted their kids to be ministered to as well. But the disciples didn’t like the interruption.
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Acting as bodyguards and protectors, they scolded the parents. Why couldn’t these children just go and play? How dare they bother Jesus? He has more important things to do. After all, they were more important than a bunch of kids—they were his chosen disciples. The disciples then turned to these adults and rebuked them—they told them off: Can’t you control your kids? What kind of parents are you? Can’t you see that this is Jesus? He doesn’t have time for little brats like yours. He’s busy with us—would you quit bothering him? Why don’t you take your kids to the playground? They’re not welcome here! Go find someone who really cares.
What they didn’t realise was that Jesus was that someone who really cared—he cared much more than they did! You see, they didn’t value children. They weren’t important to them. We have to be careful with our own attitudes. Some of us may be more like the disciples than we care to admit.
Mark 10:14 (NIV) says that Jesus was indignant with the disciples. The word ‘indignant’ comes from a compound word meaning to grieve much. This is the only time it was used in the entire New Testament. This made Jesus both angry and extremely sad—no-one should ever think of children as unimportant. He would not tolerate this attitude among his disciples—and he doesn’t tolerate it among Christ’s followers today. Kids matter to Jesus and should therefore matter to us!
(Read Jesus and Children – Part 2)
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