Insert text here.
"More, more; do it again!" I can just hear the children say it as they gather in close to Jesus.
Then they brought little children to Jesus, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16 NKJV
Bless My Child
It's hard to generalize about children. In some societies youngsters are privileged and people spend a lot of money on them. In other places of the world children come last on the list of priorities and have little or nothing to show for themselves. Children may be victims of violence and abuse. Or spend their days begging and going through garbage dumps. Many children are latch-key and spend much time behind locked doors. Our kids may be rude and demanding, happy and cooperative, fearful and shy. But one thing you can count on, children love to play, laugh, and have fun. And when you befriend a child, you have made a good buddy. Their little hearts are very forgiving.
Did children pester their parents to bring them to see Jesus? Or were they infants carried in the arms of the adults who cared for them? Either way, the disciples were slow to get it and thought there must be something more important to do. Usually grown-ups came to Jesus in distress and asking for comfort and healing; these children were not sick. Or people came to sit quietly and listen to Jesus' words; these boys and girls were not like that either. Neither were they sour and disgruntled, nitpicking or pretentious, nor angry and bitter about life. These children were a different and unfamiliar breed so the disciples turned them away. Until Jesus overrode their rebukes and welcomed the little ones. Actually he elevated them right into God's kingdom.
You can picture the small fries approaching Jesus as he smiled and encouraged them to come. Some running, others barely inching their way. Still others peering out from behind mom's skirt. There are many words to describe this scene. Excitement, joyful anticipation, happiness, laughter, grins, the delightful touching, jumping up and down, everyone talking at once, hugs, kisses, greeting Jesus like he was their best friend. Little children are so trusting.
How much better this scene than the previous ones where adults were so full of trouble and woe. Contrast this idyllic picture of Jesus with the children to his encounters with the hostile Pharisees or with his reluctant disciples. These children didn't need anything in particular, they had no questions nor criticisms. They just came to get close and have their own special time in the spotlight of Jesus' attention.
Jesus thought he had died and gone to heaven! Which brings us to the point he made. Unless we adults become like these "little nobodies" we will never enter that kingdom. He said the kingdom of God is something we receive. That's a passive mode. With happy faces, tender hearts, and hands wide open; trusting, believing, loving, happy simply to be with Jesus, willing to do whatever our Lord wants. We gain entrance to God's kingdom in similar fashion.
Jesus took the children in his arms, laid his hands on them and blessed them. The Hebrew word for bless is barak and one literal translation of that word is, "The Lord stoop down to you and take you in his arms." That's the perfect image for this text.
Did the touch of Jesus build up the immune system? Or make these children wise or brave? More kind and helpful, or whatever else the parents valued? Did it create a shield of safety and protection around their young lives? Or give the whole family peace of mind and hope for the future? If precedence is any indication, all these and more would be allotted to them according to the faith of the petitioner. Faith changes the way we think, and how we think influences everything else.
No matter how young our children are or how old and grown up they have become, parents still seek the blessing of Jesus just like those folks so long ago. Jesus, bless my child! Keep all our children pure and bright. There are so many tempting pitfalls, may their tears be few and there always be a hand to help them get back on their feet again when they fall. Please light the way toward the pathways of honor and faithfulness. They know what is right; inspire them to lead in doing good and not follow the flow. Not bent on selfish pursuits, but always aware of the concerns of others and seeking to respect and protect the dignity of all. Help them notice every day something good and worthwhile and so greet the sunrise with enthusiasm, grateful for the opportunity to be alive. Heavenly Father, stoop down every day and hold each one in your kind and ever loving arms. Amen.
Use the following questions and exercises for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: What were you doing the last time you were having so much fun you wanted to do it again?
"Pony boy, pony boy, won't you be my pony boy? Don't say 'no'; here we go,all across the plains. Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, whooooooa! Pony Boy." It's a song I learned on my mother's knee. Once through was never enough. We did it again and again. To this day put an infant on my lap, and this refrain wells up within me automatically. I sing it over and over as we gallop across some imaginary landscape. Name some things you associate with the years of early childhood?
In what ways do you think life was different for the children Jesus blessed in this text than it is for our children today? Are there any advantages they might have had?
When reading this passage, it's tempting to romanticize childhood. But raising a child is very difficult and so complex it does "take a village." Talk about your role as--the child, the parent or part of the village? Describe how, and how well, your community of faith assists parents in raising their children?
When our children are having fun, they keep coming back for more. They want to do it again! When you observe that "Do it again!" attitude, let it inspire you to have that same kind of persistence when it comes to seeking God's blessing on their lives. Develop the rhythm of "Do it again!" and "Bless my child!"
The blessing of God on your child (or on anyone's life)-- What does it mean? What does it look like and where do we see the hand of blessing today?
When Jesus looked at the little children and said of such is the kingdom of God, what characteristic in these children was Jesus commending? What is it that adults must learn from children in order to enter God's kingdom?Who are the least important people in our society and do we have time for them?
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, but on the way he stopped to hug the children and bless them. Giving and receiving go hand in hand. What do you suppose Jesus received from the children that day?
Write your own prayer for the special child/children in your life.