JESUS AND THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Categories: Life Enrichment
(Matthew 18:3,4; Luke 9:48; 18:17; Mark 10:14; Matthew 21:16)
One day Jesus was sitting with His disciples. They asked Him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus called a little child to Him and said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever, then, humbles himself like this child, will be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Even to enter the Kingdom of heaven one has to become like a little child
Little children are guileless. They are open hearted and plain spoken. Their hearts are pure. Only people with pure hearts can enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus Himself said,
“Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God” (Matthew.5:8).
It is only because of this, King David asks God, “To create in him a clean heart” (Psalm.51:10).
Children’s love is spontaneous and unselfish. It surpasses all differences of caste or status. The love of Jesus was also universal. His love was for the whole of mankind. A man whose heart is filled with such divine love will freely give it to others.
Another good quality that is found in children is their implicit faith in their parents. They have perfect confidence in their parents and entrust themselves completely to their care. It is this faith that Jesus wants to find in
His own children. He asks them to, “Have faith in God” (Mark.11:22). A man born of the spirit will have this faith in God and surrender himself absolutely to His will. Then God will accept him and use him as His own vessel to fulfill His purpose on this earth.
Unless a man humbles himself like a little child, he cannot hope to become great in the Kingdom of heaven. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James.4:6). “He (Jesus) humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name” (Philippians.2:8). Let God grant that the ‘same mind’ be found in us also.
Jesus loved such innocent children. As already pointed out, He used them as an object lesson to His disciples. When the parents brought their children to Jesus, the disciples reprimanded them. But Jesus said to them,
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for such is the Kingdom of God” (Mark.10:14).
His heart yearned towards them. He wished that all people were like those little children so that they could inherit the Kingdom of God.
Jesus identified Himself with the little children.
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives Him who sent Me” (Mark.9:37)
Ever on the judgement day, He would say,
“I assure you insofar as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it to Me” (Matthew.25:40).
These are the good deeds done to Him. St. Paul also says,
“In malice be ye children” (I.Corinthians.14:20)
meaning that one should be free from malice like little children.
The same love was shown by Jesus towards His disciples. He calls them “My children”. Such tender love was shown not only to His disciples, but to the whole of humanity. In Him was seen the loving kindness and the tender care of father coupled with the boundless; and sacrificial love of a mother. It was this supreme love that led Him to accept the cross and bear the sins of the whole of mankind on that cross of Calvary.
Small children are always innocent and they obey their parents without questioning. They are eager to please their parents. Jesus subjected Himself completely to his Father.
“I can of mine own self do nothing; ………………. I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John.5:30).
Jesus has promised to all those that believe in Him and subject themselves to the will of the Father that he will be able to do greater works than those He did.
“Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John.14:12).
Parents forget their cares and worries in the innocent prattles of their children. Jesus loved these innocent children so much that he denounced those who proved like stumbling blocks to them. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew.18:6).He is so much concerned about His people who have childlike hearts that He rebukes those that offend them. “Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh” (Matthew.18:7). To possess such a childlike heart, pure, unselfish and love, a man should be born again. Otherwise his life will really be a useless one, however great he may be in the eyes of the world.
In my life, I came across a God’s servant. His meekness, patience and love were beyond comprehension. His congregation used to pray with him with tears. There was life in his congregation. The reason for all this was his childlike spirit. But as usual, a few people caused him offences. But in the end they had to suffer a great deal. God never allows anyone to touch His own anointed ones because they are like the apple of His eyes.
Jesus gladly accepts the praises coming out of the mouths of children. In the crowd that followed Him in the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, there were children. Their voices rang out in praises. When the Pharisees and the Chief Priests saw this wonderful procession, they got angry. Jesus then said unto them,
“Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” – Matthew.21:16.
This perfected praise can come only out of the mouths of those that have the heart and spirit of a child. God also expects and is ever waiting for such people to render unto Him such praises and He dwells among such praises.
“Behold, children are a legacy from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is His reward” – Psalm.127:3
So, we should never be a stumbling block to them. God grants that we become as little children and with a pure and loving heart lead them in the ways of the Lord. Let us be patient with them, try to understand them and then cater to their physical, mental and spiritual needs.
“And fathers, do not arouse your children’s anger, but bring them up in the instruction and admonition of the Lord” – Ephesians.6:4.
Children who are brought up thus in His ways will surely live to be His children throughout their lives.
Once in Russia, a father and mother were sentenced for propagating the gospel. They had brought up their children in the ways of the Lord. When the parents were in the prison, the children were looked after by one of the relatives. On her birthday, the younger daughter went with some presents to see her parents in the prison. There she met the officer who was responsible for the infliction of torture of her parents before they were put in prison. She knew this because she had seen it with her own eyes. For a second she was filled with anger and hatred towards the officer. Then she remembered the teachings of her mother that we should return good for evil.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans.12:21).
So, she gave the presents, she had brought with her, to that officer and asked him to give them to his children. When the officer saw this act of love, he was very much moved.
He embraced the child and kissed her. He freed her parents. What was the end? He was sentenced to death. Such is the outcome of the innocent and unquestioning love of the little children. This small child was the means of changing the stony heart of this officer into a spongy one.