People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:15-16)
In Luke’s story of Jesus blessing the little children, what always catches my eye is that Jesus actively called little children to come to him. His own disciples are opposed to the idea. They “hindered them.” Perhaps they believed that following Jesus was not kids’ stuff.
But Jesus loves children. Perhaps one of the most comforting things that parents and grandparents can ever know is that Jesus loves our children and grandchildren more than we ever could. Jesus himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus laid down his life for the whole world…including children.
No parent I have met has ever conveyed to me that they felt they did “the perfect job” as a parent. My wife and I didn’t. We have three children and we are often amazed how the three can be so different and require such different skills in terms of parenting. It would be easier if they could respond to a one-size-fits-all approach to child rearing. But we have learned that an approach that seems to work well with one of our children may not work at all with the next.
Thankfully, Jesus knows our children, and he knows yours. He loves them completely and unconditionally. He wants them to come to him. In Mark’s Gospel, we read that Jesus took little children into his arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). No matter how much we fall short in our efforts to be perfect parents, it is a relief to know that Jesus’ love and grace constantly overflows and washes over our children.
But both Luke and Mark mention something else — people were bringing their children to him. That’s an important role, one that we can play in the lives of our children. It’s a question worth asking: Do we bring our children to Jesus? Or might we “hinder them”?
When I read through the Gospel accounts of parents bringing their children to Jesus, I am struck of Jesus. They want their children in his presence. Perhaps they recognize their own lack of parental competence and are seeking the blessing and help of one who loves their children more than they ever could.
How might we hinder our children from entering the presence of Jesus? One way might be to avoid opportunities to engage them in activities or functions where the worship of Jesus is likely to occur. This may include church-related activities such as worship services or Christian camps or retreats.
Another way we might hinder our children is by not showing them our own love of Jesus. Is it clear to them that building an abiding relationship with him is for us more important than anything else? Do we spend time in prayer with and for our children?
A final way that we might hinder our children from coming into Jesus’ presence is by living a double standard. As children grow, they easily spot hypocrisy. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:5 about having “a form of godliness but denying its power.” If we compartmentalize our lives, being “Christian” only while at church, our children will pick up on it.
Jesus loves our children, this I know. He loves them more than we ever could. Ephesians 3:20 summarizes it well: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” That’s the work of Jesus, and he can do more, immeasurably more, in the lives of our children than we could ever imagine. So let’s bring them into his presence!