And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16)
That was the scripture for this week’s adult Sunday school class at church (Chapter 44 in “Let’s Study Mark” by Ferguson). Several thoughts come to mind after studying this passage. First, we see another aspect of God’s character revealed in the way Jesus treats children. Rather than dismissing them as unimportant or claiming he is too busy and does not want to be bothered, Jesus “took them in his arms and blessed them.” In that day, children had no standing in society, but Jesus teaches us that in His kingdom, they are fellow heirs. The disciples’ reaction is not strange from our own when we consider how often we compare ourselves to other Christians. We tend to elevate some believers over others based on knowledge or experience or theological education. Jesus is the standard to which we compare ourselves, and when we look at Him, we realize we are all like children. All of us, from the most knowledgeable theologian to the new convert, miss the mark and are totally dependent on God’s mercy and grace.
There is lesson for us parents: our children are important and need our special attention. In the present age of digital distractions, after-school activities and general “busyness,” we need to stop and recognize how little time we have to make a difference. We cannot get the formidable years back once they’re gone. Regarding our children’s upbringing, we need to think more like long-term investors rather than daily consumers. In the passage, Jesus took time to stop and give attention to the little ones. General Robert E. Lee, as popular as he was after the Civil War, was well-loved by the children of Lexington, KY because he always took time for them and made them feel special.
May we all have child-like faith, not childish faith.