The Children Come to Jesus – Don Gentry
Scripture: Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV)
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
In this passage we see Jesus as our first children’s ministry worker. At this point and time in his ministry he was considered a Rabbi. Unlike being a pastor in America, if you were a Rabbi in Jewish culture you were highly respected. Your opinion, time, and presence was highly valued, and it was an honor just to be around you. Jesus took time to not just interact with the children and pat them on the head, but also protect them and give them extreme value.
“The Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” would have been a very controversial statement. Children were not valued. There was a strong Roman influence upon the culture at this time as well. In the Roman world if you had more then one girl, or if your child had a weakness or disease, it was customary and socially acceptable to discard your child as if he/she were trash. If it would be financially beneficial it was also acceptable to sell your child.
Jesus stands against the culture in so many ways in this short little passage that we often overlook the significance. He is once again standing up for those who had no voice. He used his influence to stand in the face of a culture that was very antagonistic to his teaching. Not only did he confront the culture but he also chastised his followers for their behavior and gave value to an extremely vulnerable segment of society.
I am so glad that we don’t live in a culture that devalues children. In fact our culture might even give our children a little too much control over our society. Regardless of our opinion on the matter, we can be challenged by this passage.
I encourage you to think through your attitude towards children. Do they matter to you? Do you just pat them on the head or do you take time to show them their value to you? If so, what have you done to be an influence in their world today, this week, this month?
Children mattered to Jesus and they should matter to us too. Will you take the time to figure out how you can use your influence to make a difference in the life of a child?
Thank you Jesus for your amazing example of love and compassion. As you always defended the weak and vulnerable, you showed us the value of all life. Forgive me for not always viewing others as you view them. Help me to not just value children, but help me to have a desire to want to make a difference in their world. Amen.