"People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
Reflection from Gracie:
The image of Jesus embracing the children, laying his hands on them, blessing them, is so evocative. Parents and grandparents picturing Jesus will remember the warmth and weight of their own children, how their small bodies molded to theirs when held close, how overwhelming love filled them up, how much they miss this intimacy. Perhaps they’ll recall bringing their children to church to be baptized, carefully passing their precious offspring into their pastor’s arms, and the pastor ever so tenderly cradling, blessing, and welcoming the children into the church family. Jesus’ tender love for children is evident: “And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
Jesus wanted children brought to Him, saw in children’s faith a clear path to God, and he would not have their access to Him cut off. He was “indignant” when his disciples scolded the people who brought the children. “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them,” He directed. Furthermore, He said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as [like] a little child will never enter it.” Never? Oh, my!!
What did Jesus mean by “as a little child”? Think about the youngest children you know – newborns. At birth, they recognize their parents’ voices, respond to their touches. Soon they recognize their parents’ faces, reach for them, return their parents’ embraces. Parents carry and support their children until they are able to walk, then the children toddle after, trying to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Children fall, but encouraged by their parents, they get up, and persevere. The children thrive in their parents’ love and nurturing; their faith in their parents’ love and protection is implicit. This is the open, intimate relationship Jesus yearns to have with all children. And we – all mankind – are the ‘all.’ Nurtured and loved by Jesus, we all can thrive.
Are children being brought to Jesus at FUMCDP? Oh, yes. Generations of faithful are well represented here. Little ones sit with their parents or adult friends and mentors in worship, and young and mature adults often come with their parents. Children are brought to Sunday school, Vacation Bible school, to youth group, choir, praise dance practice, to participate in prayer, confirmation, missions, and go on mission trips – all facilitated by adults. Parents and church family embrace children, and, it seems to me our members grow closer as they minister to children and one another.
Dear God, sometimes we forget how accessible You are, forget we can come to You in faith at any time, like children run toward and follow their parents. Focus our attention on the image in Mark of Jesus reaching out to gather children close, blessing them, glad to see them. Jesus admonished the disciples who sought to deny those believers and their children access to Him, but he welcomed these faithful ones. Preserve those images in us, so we move persons and things aside that would deter us as we seek your Son, run toward Him and follow Him with the confidence that we are all Your children, and beloved. Amen.