As Jesus and his disciples were walking toward Jerusalem, a discussion
started about children.
MATTHEW Parents naturally want to see their children
promoted and honored, but this desire is dangerous if it causes them to lose
sight of God’s specific will for their children. God may have different work in
mind – not as glamorous, but just as important. Thus parents’ desires for their
children’s advancement must be held in check as they pray that God’s will be
done in their children’s lives.
JESUS And whoever welcomes a little child like
this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who
believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung
around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
MATTHEW Children are
trusting by nature. They trust adults, and through that trust their capacity to
trust God grows. God holds parents and other adults who influence young children
accountable for how they affect these little ones’ ability to trust. Jesus, just
as you just warned us; that anyone who turns little children away from faith
will receive severe punishment.
Jesus, you also warned us about two ways to cause “little ones’ to sin: tempting
them and neglecting or demeaning them. As their leaders, we are to help young
people or new believer avoid anything or anyone that could cause them to stumble
in their faith and lead them to sin. We must never take lightly the spiritual
education and protection of the young in age and in the faith.
JESUS In the same
way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be
MATTHEW God is concerned about every human being he has created (he is
“not wanting anyone to perish”). When we come in contact with children who need
Christ at home, at school, in church, and in the neighborhood; we must steer
them toward Christ by our example, our words, and our acts of kindness.
It is hard to let go of people or projects we have nurtured. It is both sweet
and painful to see our children as adults, our students as teachers, our
subordinates as managers, our inspirations as institutions. But when the time
comes to step back and let go, we must do so in spite of the hurt. Then our
proteges can exercise their wings, take flight, and soar to the heights God
intended for them.
JESUS Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my
name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who
PETER So what you are saying Jesus is that it is important not only to
teach them about you; but to treat children well. Children’s ministries should
never be regarded as less important than those for adults.
JESUS See that you do
not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in
heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
MATTHEW Our concern for
children must match God’s treatment of them. If their angels have constant
access to God, the least we can do is to allow children to approach us easily in
spite of our far too busy schedules.
JESUS Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
MATTHEW Jesus, you want little children to come to you and us because you love
them and because they have the kind of attitude needed to approach God. People
need childlike attitudes of trust in God. The receptiveness of little children
are a great contrast to the stubbornness of many adults who let their material
world experience and sophistication stand in the way of the simple faith needed
to believe and trust in Jesus. JESUS I tell you the truth, anyone who will not
receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
are not as trusting as little children. To feel secure, all children need is a
loving look and gentle touch from someone who cares. Complete intellectual
understanding is not one of their requirements. They believe us if they trust
us. We do not have to understand all the mysteries of the universe; it should be
enough to know that God loves us. This doesn’t mean that we should be childish
or immature, but we should trust God with a child’s simplicity and receptivity.
JESUS Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? i tell you the truth, unless
you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of
heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven.
MATTHEW We are not to be childish, but rather childlike,
with humble and sincere hearts; if we want to enter heaven. And if we want our
children to do so; then our goal for them must also be the same.