WHAT MATTERS MOST
“Look deep into my heart, God, …. lead me in the way that time has proven true” (Psa. 139:23,24 CEV).
Read MATTHEW 19:13–15
The Little Children and Jesus
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘O Lord God, loving, faithful and righteous, preserve all people and animals. With your priceless unfailing love, O God, may children take refuge in the shadow of your wings.’1
In the previous verses, marriage was central. In today’s passage, the theme of family continues – focusing now on children. In Matthew 18:5, Jesus taught the disciples that to welcome a child is to welcome Jesus himself. Here, children are brought to Jesus for blessing. The disciples should have welcomed them warmly. Sadly, as we so often do, they fail the test. They reject the people with sharp rebuke (epitimaō). By failing to welcome the children, they reject Jesus himself.
Jesus’ response is not rebuke but a more direct command never to prevent children from coming to him. They must always be warmly welcomed. Implied is Jesus’ deep love for the kids of the world. Furthermore, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such children. Showing how they are to be loved, Jesus laid his hands gently on them, blessing them. The disciples are shown graphically how they are to receive children into the church of God in the future.
We see here that children are precious, to be nurtured with gentleness. Each child bears God’s image and to welcome them is to welcome Jesus and the Father. We must adopt Jesus’ attitude toward children, from their conception to adulthood. We who are parents are reminded of the importance of parenting our children well. We must support other parents in this task. The most important ministries in the church are not those for the grown-ups, but those that show God’s love to children. Those of us with material resources must lavishly provide for these ministries and for missions that reach out to families and children. This is especially important where there is deprivation, since it is the children who feel it most.
Pray, by name, for the children you know. Ask Jesus to lay his hands on them and bless them. Can you contribute to ministry to children and families?
Generous, merciful God, you have shown mercy toward me and call me to be merciful toward others. Help me do it.
1 Based on Ps. 36:5-7
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