For more help use this Bible Study method
Jesus' Priorities Include Children!
by Elaine Pierce
Today's passage is very short: two verses. These verses are sandwiched in between a discussion Jesus has with the Pharisees on divorce, and an encounter that he has with a rich young man who wants to know what he must do to get eternal life. In the midst of these serious interactions, parents bring their children to Jesus for him to pray for them. It almost seems out of place, doesn't it? He is having weighty conversations with religious rulers and a wealthy man. Why would Matthew include this story about Jesus blessing children? The disciples certainly didn't think that spending time with little ones was worth their Rabbi's time.
In Jesus' time, children had absolutely no standing in society. The saying "children should be seen and not heard" wasn't popularized until hundreds of years later, but it could easily have been voiced in the ancient world. Children were loved, of course, but they had no rights. Jesus obviously does not agree. He places his hands on them, and he says "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
The disciples thought that children should not be a priority. You would think they would have figured out they were wrong by now. Take a look at Matthew 18:1-6. The disciples ask Jesus who the greatest is in the kingdom of heaven (hoping, I'm guessing, that he would name them), and he calls a little child up, and says "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (v. 3)
I don't think Jesus is saying that we should never mature. I do think, however, that he is reminding his disciples - and us - that we, like children, don't have anything to offer Jesus. We can't impress him with our theological knowledge, like the Pharisees tried to do. We can't offer him riches, like the wealthy young man did. We can only come, without defenses or excuses, to the throne, and accept the free gift of his grace.
The longer I live the Christian life, the more I realize what an incredible gift it is to know Jesus. What a glorious day it will be when we see him face to face. For now, accept his blessing and prepare yourself for the kingdom. And watch for those blessings that only come through his grace.
Lord, I long to come to you without pretense, just as I am. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. Forgive me for the many times I sin, and thank you for forgiveness, new life, and your Holy Spirit Amen.