“I hear Jesus has come to Judea,” a young mother said to her neighbor one morning. “Let’s take our children to see Him. Maybe He will bless them.”
It was the custom in those days for mothers to take their babies and young children to a priest for a special prayer of blessing. They believed that if a priest would lay his hands on a child’s head and speak words of blessing, the child would grow up to be a good and special person.
“I’ll go with you,” answered the neighbor.” Come children,” she called, “we’re going to see Jesus.”
The two women picked up their babies. Their older children walked beside them as they started down the dusty road toward the Jordan River.
After a long walk, they could see a crowd of people gathered on a grassy hillside. They knew Jesus must be teaching there. As they came closer, they discovered that other mothers and children were trying to get near enough to talk to Him. They squeezed through the crowd, and they saw Jesus seated on a flat rock, talking to the people. He was teaching them how to have happy homes.
This is a good time, the women decided. They quietly came near Jesus. “Will you please bless our children?” one mother asked.
Before Jesus could answer, several of His disciples came toward the women. They said, “You shouldn’t bother Jesus now. He’s too busy teaching. Take these children away.”
Sorrowfully, the mothers turned away. But Jesus had heard what the disciples said, and He was displeased. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
When the mothers heard these words, they brought their babies closer. The children gathered around Jesus. He took some of them on His lap. He put His hands on each little head while He told them how much God loved them. These children understood what Jesus was saying better than the older people. They could tell how much He loved them. And they loved Him back with all their hearts.
Another day, the disciples started quarreling about who would have the most important position when Jesus set up His kingdom. “Come here,” Jesus called to a little child who stood nearby. Then He spoke to the people. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
What was it about young children that Jesus wanted the disciples to copy? Children don’t worry about being important. They love people for what they are, not for their possessions, or the position they may have in life. They believe what parents and teachers tell them. They want to please those they love. Jesus told His disciples that when people are kind to children, they are being kind to Him. He said, “And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
Some days later, Jesus was riding on a donkey toward Jerusalem. As He rode along, people who had seen His wonderful miracles followed Him. They wanted to treat Him like a king. They waved palm branches and spread their robes along the road ahead of Him. They sang and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
Jesus rode on into Jerusalem and went to the temple. There the blind, the lame, and the sick came to Him for healing. The priests looked on with disgust. They heard the children shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Do you hear what these are saying?” the priests asked Jesus.
“Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of babes . . . thou hast brought perfect praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)
Jesus was showing everyone how happy it made Him to hear little children praising Him. Perfect praise is the kind that acknowledges Jesus as the Savior, the kind that shows Him reverence and love.
When you feel that perhaps you aren’t very important, remember how Jesus used the attitude of little children as an example of true faith.
Find Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16. and Luke 18:15-17 and compare how these Bible writers wrote the story of Jesus blessing the children.
The special verse to learn for this lesson is Matthew 19:14. These are the words Jesus spoke to the disciples to show how important children really are to Him.
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14