People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. “He said to them, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 NIV
For the past 10 months I have had the privilege of caring for my granddaughter during the work week. I have had a daily reminder that babies and young children are dependent on the caring, loving adults in their lives to provide for all of their needs. Young children are trusting, they are curious to learn, and open to exploring their world. Babies and young children flourish, grow and mature in a caring, loving environment with clear boundaries.
In Jesus’ day, children did not have much value in society. Several times the disciples rebuke people for “interrupting” Jesus by bringing little children to him. However, Jesus does not get annoyed or treat children as interruptions. Instead he hugs them, holds them, blesses them, values them and encourages them to come to him. In Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus uses small children as illustrations in his explanations of how his kingdom works. He is again turning the disciples’ expectations upside down.
Jesus tells us in the parallel passage in Matthew 18:3-4, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Status was important in this society as it seems to be in all societies. But Mark tells us that in Jesus’ kingdom, “‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me,’” Mark 9:35b-37.
Jesus calls us to become like children if we want to be a part of God’s kingdom. I need to be dependent on God, looking to him to provide all my needs, just as a baby depends on his or her parents. I need to trust God works all things out for good in my life, regardless of how it might look today. I need to be curious, ask questions, search God’s word for answers and talk to God regularly so I can learn about myself, about his kingdom and how to relate with others, just as a young child does. How about you?
By Grace Hunter