“Then the little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” Matthew 19:13-15 KJV
Children and Jesus
When I read this Scripture, I am warmed by Jesus’ wisdom and way; he was inclusive of the children, and of other outsiders of his time and culture, like women, widows, and prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, Samaritans, even Romans. The inviting and forgiving spirit he showed reminds me I am always welcome in His heart and arms, and that He desires me to come close and let Him love me, pray for and with me, dry my tears, hear my concerns, and lay His hands on me as a comforting, healing presence. What Good News!
I still can see in my mind’s eye the first picture I remember which illustrated this verse and the truth about Jesus it represents. It was such an inviting painting that I could so easily see myself in, and wanted to be in. It was one of Jesus holding his arms out to a variety of sizes and kinds of little children, with tenderness, compassion, patience, kindness, warmth, joy and love in his countenance and presence. All the words of the verse were made clear by the visual representation, however this painting came to life for me in one of my earliest memories of my mother teaching Sunday School when I was about 3 years old.
I can still see the whole scene and relive the moment to this day. We were in the basement of an old stone church in Colorado where our toddler Sunday school class was held. Mom was sitting on a low stool with the sunlight shining in on her through a small window to her side as she read favorite stories from the children’s picture Bible as she did every Sunday, after which we would sing together, “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, I Love to Hear.”
All were welcome at her feet, though some sat on her lap or stood next to her as she lovingly cared for their needs while she continued to read and show us the pictures. Looking back, I can recognize that I was feeling comfort and pride in my mother as the good shepherd of this little flock of children. As she turned the page in the big picture Bible book to the familiar one of Jesus with the little children, I was struck with the awareness of how she looked like a female version of the painting of Jesus as described in today’s verse. Suddenly I saw that the spirit of Christ was alive that day, in that moment, in the person of my mother.
To this day I am blessed to have my 95 1/2-year-old mother still flowing with the fruit of the spirit as she continues to abide in Christ and express His gracious, humble love to all. I am blessed to know both the seemingly more Fatherly attributes of Divine (and human) Love, such as provision and protection, as well as the oft-referred to more Motherly characteristics of Love such as gentleness and patience. Yes, I have been inspired by Jesus and by the love and wisdom of both my parents’ faith, as in “Train up a child in the way she should go, and when she is old, she will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Reflection Questions I ask myself (and offer to you): Where, in what or whom do you experience, as well as express, the welcoming arms and loving heart of Jesus?
Do you enter into the presence of Jesus even now in your life with childlike innocence, wonder, joy, purity, faith, and trust?
How are you welcoming with open hands and heart those who seem on the fringe or too immature or different spiritually to be worthy of your time?
Have you let go of childish ways in favor of spiritual maturity, meanwhile continuing to foster your own childlike amazement and gratitude for the precious friend you have in Jesus?
Prayer: Oh, Sweet Jesus, let us recognize Your constant invitation to come closer and be loved and touched by You, so that we are nourished to go forth and Feed Your Lambs, in Your name. Amen.