Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
It is early evening. The sun is setting and Judea is darkening, as is the mood of the disciples. The journey from Capernaum to the other side of the Jordan was a tiring one, and the multitudes to which they ministered have left them full of weariness and woe. All except one that is, Jesus. As they rest in the house, He knows who is about to knock on the door of their quiet dwelling.
Earlier that day the disciples had witnessed Jesus teaching the multitudes. The topic of discussion had become intense as the Pharisees came with yet another minefield of questions in which to trap Him. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?“ they asked.
Jesus, though speaking to many, had one target in mind for His answer; his friends, the disciples. These were the very ones who had followed from the riversides, leaving their nets and boats to go with Him; the ones who hovered close by the firelight breaking bread with Him. While on the road to Capernaum, it was to these twelve disciples, that Jesus had just ended a dispute between them. The disciples had argued, “Who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”. Jesus’ had a simple answer. He took up a little boy in His arms as His object lesson and said, “Be like this little child; humble of heart and willing to be last." And to this group of close friends he posed his answer about divorce.
The crowd is hushed by the question and waits to see what Jesus’ reply will be. No doubt some of them have been divorced and look for justification in his answer. Will he be trapped? With a furrowed brow, Jesus responds with a question. “What did Moses command you?”
The tension seems to lighten as the Pharisees are quick to respond that Moses allowed it! “Yes! Justified at last!” they think to themselves.
But just then Jesus appealed to a higher authority as He went on to explain what God intended marriage to be… a bonding together of two into one flesh: a bond that over time solidifies, creating a lifetime union. With great concern in His eyes, He turned toward the multitude and explained the violent consequences of divorce. With clenched fists and urgency in His voice, Jesus pleaded with the crowd, stating that ending a marriage in anything other than death, literally rips lives apart! The two that became one flesh are literally ripped physically, emotionally and spiritually in two, leaving the entire family wounded and crushed by the heavy hand of divorce’s blow.
However, the twelve disciples sat in Jesus’ classroom that day, amongst the hillsides of Judea, as bystanders instead of engaged students, learning nothing. This became even more obvious as the knocks on the door came.
Parents, maybe grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and perhaps just guardians knocked on the door having followed Jesus from the hillsides. They didn’t come requesting for themselves but for their children.
Who were these children? Their names were unimportant, although Jesus knew every one. To him their troubles were most important. Maybe they were children ripped apart by the destruction of divorce. Perhaps there were even children with alcohol fetal syndrome or learning disabilities. Orphans and diseased children were surely amongst the throng that arrived that evening. All with problems for which they were not responsible. For whatever reason the children were there. Jesus had come to Judea for them.
After all the time the disciples had spent with Jesus. After all they had seen Him do and heard Him say. Like stubborn sheep, they did not grasp the message Jesus was attempting to teach them. As the visitors arrived at the house that evening, the disciples answered the door like men awakened from their nights slumber; angry, grouchy, and shooing the children away. The disciples looked and saw children, small and insignificant in their eyes. They forgot to look through the eyes of their Master.
Jesus’ passion for children became very evident with His response. Unlike His disciples, His eyes looked past their stature and into their hearts. What He saw there was amazing: great untapped potential, unfulfilled destinies, and Jesus rendered valuable what society had deemed unimportant. He saw futures that He wanted to bless.
So with great displeasure, as the scripture states, He shooed the disciples away and spoke some of the most famous words scripture has to offer. “ Let the little children come unto me and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” In their eyes He saw the innocence of heaven and was touched.
The Savior no doubt, embraced each and every one of them, showering them with hugs and kisses. After all, who can resist the fat cheeks of a baby, the golden locks of a little girl, or the deep blue of a sweet boy’s eyes. He touched them-each one, speaking to them, laughing with them, and blessing them.
As the scene drew to a close, a weary, but patient teacher, Jesus chuckled and once again embraced a child. He echoed the lesson once more to His dear disciples. “Please understand “ Jesus spoke sighing, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
With reddened faces and humbled hearts, it was in that moment that the disciples learned a lesson they had not yet comprehended. As they watched the Creator of the world, love and embrace his creation, they realized that it wasn’t about what they could accomplish for their master. It was about who they were to their master…someone special. They would soon find out just how special…special enough to die .
Please help me to look into this story and find myself. In many ways I have behaved at one time or another like every character within this passage.
I have been in the crowd, curious about You and all You’ve said, but leaving at the end of the day making no commitment.
I have been a Pharisee when I took my mistakes and Your forgiveness lightly, and instead looked to justify myself.
I have been a disciple looking for my own throne in Your kingdom, instead of sitting at Your feet as a student.
I am also a child, wounded by the world, and looking to You for a blessing that only You can give. Help me dear Lord to accept Your words and all You are capable of doing with the faith of a little child.
You are my hero in a fairy tale that ends well if I put my trust in You. Embrace me as well, and I know I shall see heaven……Amen.