Summary: It was customary in Jesus’ day for children to be brought to rabbis and elders for their blessing, and on this occasion some brought young children for Jesus to touch and bless. The disciples appeared to be rude and inconsiderate, especially in . . . .
Jesus Blesses Children; Raises Objections
13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
It was customary in Jesus’ day for children to be brought to rabbis and elders for their blessing, and on this occasion some brought young children for Jesus to touch and bless. The disciples appeared to be rude and inconsiderate, especially in the light of Jesus’ recent teaching, given in Matthew 18:2–6.
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
6 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.
They should have remembered, but they may have been annoyed that their private discussion with the Lord was interrupted by the seeming triviality of blessing children. The disciples failed to see the potential in these children that their Master did. He not only knew what men were, but by the grace of God He knew what they could be, and He also knew what children would become. Children want to come to Jesus, but too often adults get in the way, as they did here. The best parents make it easy for their children to come to Christ, and to love Him, and receive His blessing.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
These little children were evidently old enough to come to Jesus on their own. They were brought by their parents, but they were not infants, therefore, He invited them to come to Him. Something that this points out is that while all childhood professions of faith may not be genuine, yet a child can be saved and follow Christ.
Jesus told His disciples to allow the children to come to Him; therefore we can assume that they were trying to prevent them from coming. Over in Marks gospel we are given a little more information.
Mark wrote that Jesus told His disciples: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:15-16). Those who enter the kingdom of God must become like a little child. A child does not become distracted by all the complexities of life. When he trusts, his faith is simple and unwavering. Luke adds that there were also infants present: “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them…” (Luke 18:15).
The fact which is shown by this parable is that those who humble themselves before God by trusting Jesus and confessing their sins will be saved and blessed by God. If you have been saved and blessed by God, I know that you want your children and grandchildren to also be saved and blessed by Him.
God has told us by His prophet Isaiah, “I will first pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and then my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah. 44:3). God wants to bless all children and He does so by granting salvation to children who die in infancy, because they can’t understand the message of the gospel. It is a fact that no child will reject Jesus if He is presented to the child on a Bible basis and that child has sufficient understanding. This is one reason why we should get the gospel message to them.
Someone might say, “Wait a minute—then everyone could be saved if we reach them as children.” No, this is not true because they reach the age of accountability later. The reason for trying to get the gospel into the hearts of children is so that when they reach the age of accountability they will make a decision for Christ. It is important that this be followed through. Do not rest on the fact that your child made a decision when he was two, three, four, five, six, seven or eight years old. My son and daughter made a decision for Christ when they were nine and eight years old. But I pray for their salvation every day, because I can’t know what is in their heart.