“Then were there brought unto him little children that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:13-14
The heart of a child is extremely fragile and yet amazingly resilient. One harsh word can send it into the pit of discouragement; one jester of love can deliver it from years of hurt. Although most would never say it, many churches and adults develop the attitude of the disciples that children are a nuisance and not worthy of being bothered with. “Children are messy, ill-mannered; they’re takers not givers, they won’t pay the bills; you can’t build a church on children”. May I remind you that you were a child? Obviously in Jesus day people had a low view of children; children were to be seen and not heard and the sooner they could work and earn some money the better, otherwise they were only a burden on the family. Lest we think that we have advanced and become more caring, I need only to point out that millions of babies have been aborted by parents that didn’t want the hassle of raising them. Not to mention neglectful parents and those who off-load responsibility on others.
Notice Jesus’ interest in children. He not only counts them important, He says we are to learn from them. One lesson a child can teach is about faith. “Of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Early, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Salvation is by child-like faith (simple, complete trust and dependence). We receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life by simple, complete trust in and dependence upon Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.
Jesus warn against offending children. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” The word translated “offend” carries the idea of ensnaring them or enticing them to sin. Woe to those who lead a child into evil! In fact the Lord exhorts us to do the opposite. We are to seek to lead them to Christ. “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world and so should we. This month our church has a free Vacation Bible School. What a wonderful time we have each year at VBS as we share the love of Christ with dozens of boys and girls.