The afternoon was warm on that Judean hillside. Ardent followers and curiosity seekers alike were milling around waiting for another session with the Master. Jesus may have taken a break to rest his voice when a commotion caught His attention. Men and women with babes in arms, small children tagging along, were arguing with His disciples.
The disciples, intent on protecting the Master, were indignant. “Surely you people must know Jesus has more important things to do…” Overhearing his misguided handlers, Jesus expressed His anger in no uncertain terms. He issued a command in two parts, gave a lesson on His Kingdom’s principles and…sat down. And then, with simple delight, he took children up on his lap, and He blessed them.
Undoubtedly, Jesus treasured his own childhood memories when He played with other children at village feast days and sacred celebrations. But note, in this incident, Jesus did not hand out “blessings.” He had no treats to pull out of his robe’s pockets. He played no games with the children. Neither did He set up nurseries to care for their needs, nor organize activities to keep them out of mischief. That remarkable afternoon, He simply placed His hands on their heads and blessed each one. And then he returned them to the arms of their parents, their rightful guardians and teachers. But oh, what joy those families must have experienced who could remember how Jesus, with a gentle touch, bestowed a blessing on their children.
Today, we ask questions in response to this poignant story. What did Jesus mean when He declared that His Kingdom belonged to “such as these?” Why did He say that only those who receive His Kingdom in the way a child receives it can enter at all? How can we, today, so many centuries and miles away from that hillside scene, how can we be sure our children truly come to Jesus; how can we avoid hindering them? How can we make certain that our children experience Jesus’ tender touch and receive His blessing?
Let me suggest four things we must do now. We must PRAY for our children and pray with them. We must PROVIDE sound biblical teaching and give them opportunity to respond appropriate to their age. We must PARTNERwith them now with courage and compassion and PREPARE them for a future where they will bring glory to the King of Kings and advance His Kingdom.
PRAY, PROVIDE, PARTNER, PREPARE. Consider these as four pegs upon which to hang strategies and best practices for discipling children for God’s Kingdom glory and work. Next time we’ll expand on these. In the meantime, your feedback is always welcome.