Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Here’s the full story:
Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and to pray for them, but the disciples scolded the people. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” He placed his hands on them and then went away. (Matthew 19:13-15).
OK. Back on Day 157 I reflected on the fact that children in Jesus’ day worked full time. They were expected to do as much as they were capable of doing at any given age to help with the family. That was their education – learning how to cook, farm, take care of a house, tend animals, make crafts for sale, etc. Childhood wasn’t much different from adulthood, except that children were powerless. They were the low ones on the ladder of success, utterly dependent on their parents for survival. They had no rights whatsoever back then.
The disciples thought that it was inappropriate for women to be bothering Jesus about their children. They thought Jesus was much too important to waste his time on unimportant people such as these so they scolded them for their presumptuousness. The children were probably playing and running and being unruly. The disciples probably scolded them for not showing appropriate respect for their master. But the disciples didn’t remember Jesus’ teaching about the parable of the lost sheep and his remarkable notion that every person is important, not just the rich and powerful (See Day 160). Not just the men. Even the poor and the humble and the women and the children were created by God, so all are important to Jesus. It underscores Jesus’ teaching that life is not about the domination of the weak by the strong. It’s not about the survival of the fittest (See Day 141). It’s about reaching out to the lowliest and giving them a boost up. It’s about partnering those mother to get those children off to a good start in life. It’s about putting a special blessing on their lives and speaking a special word into their spirits, just like God did to Jesus on Day 110.
I’d never really read this scripture carefully before. It’s the first time I noticed that it’s an example of Jesus doing a “laying on of hands” not for the purpose of healing, but for bestowing a blessing. Although there are a lot of churches where this is considered to be a weird or inappropriate practice, Jesus apparently disagrees. And in my opinion it’s sad that it’s not a common practice in more churches. Such a simple way of serving others and it doesn’t cost a dime, just a little generosity of spirit. And it is clearly WJD (what Jesus did) so it’s WWSD (what we should do).
At our church in Chicago my pastor husband started anointing the children with oil and praying for their safety at the end of our church service every week. They were city kids so they had real concerns about making to and from school every day without getting killed, so they were very anxious to get that blessing from the pastor every Sunday. It was very important to them. They felt the power of that blessing. In the picture below the men of the church were blessing the boys on Father’s Day. Another powerful blessing.
Like Jesus says, the children are the ones to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs. They are the ones who show us the way. My baby-boomer generation has made a little progress towards establishing God’s Kingdom but we certainly aren’t there yet. The children are the ones who will inherit the task so we need to bless them and encourage them and empower them to do it. We have to help them understand how the power of God’s love working within them can change the world for the better. We shouldn’t try to get them to lower their standards. We should instead change our speech and actions to conform to their innocent ideals, rather than teaching them to settle for less. If we do that we are offering them a real blessing, not just a symbolic one.
What does this scripture say to you?