He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads
and blessed them (v.16).
According to UNICEF, 4 million newborns die each
year within their first month of life and 8.8 million
die before their first birthday. Nineteen million
infants in the developing world are born underweight
and 148 million children under age 5 suffer malnutrition.
There are 101 million children who aren’t attending
primary school and 2 million living with HIV. These huge
numbers represent real faces and personalities.
Children also suffered during Jesus’ day. In Mark,
children are depicted as either “sick” or “oppressed” (see
5:35-43, 7:24-30, 9:14-27). Moreover, a child of that era
was often considered less important than an adult.
The disciples were quick to deflect children and their
parents away from Jesus (10:13). Such an important
teacher was not to be troubled by mere kids! But Jesus
became indignant at their behavior, noting that children
have a special place in His kingdom (v.14). He wrapped
His arms around the children and blessed them (v.16).
This display of affection and compassion for children
was controversial for a rabbi, but Jesus went further.
He made children a role model for adults. “I tell you
the truth,” He said, “anyone who doesn’t receive the
kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (v.15).
This was an unthinkable thing to say in Jesus’ day.
Children were to be led—not followed.
Jesus’ radical love of kids means two things for those
of us who follow Him today. First, we should work hard to see those UNICEF
statistics change. Jesus rescued children from illness and oppression and
welcomed them into His embrace. So should we.
Second, we should emulate the faith of a child. Jesus’ kingdom isn’t to be
earned or accomplished but received like a gift. In this, Jesus says, children can
be our guide.
Jesus resented the poor treatment of children. How often are you troubled by it? To what
degree do you trust Jesus?