I believe children are the best of us. They are a precious gift from heaven—all of them, no exceptions. I also believe that those that take care of them are very special people, a treasure, for they nurture them in many significant and life-changing ways.
What about God? How much does Jesus care about children? Of course, Jesus loves all people, but he is particularly caring of children—of those who are most vulnerable.
There is a story in the Bible that gives us the answer to this question. The apostle Mark tells us this story of when children were being brought to Jesus by their parents and grandparents, and how people around Jesus and Jesus himself reacted to that. This is Mark 10:13-16,
“People were bringing little children to him in order that he might [bless] them; and the disciples spoke [harshly] to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was [furious] and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”
In this story, we learn that children were being brought to Jesus by their families so he could bless them. However, some people decided Jesus shouldn’t be bothered by that and shooed them away. Perhaps they thought it was an unimportant task, and Jesus had more serious business to attend. So, they decided Jesus was too busy to entertain children.
However, Jesus heard the conversation and interjected by saying, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” The Scripture tells that Jesus was furious with what was happening; he did not mind his words to make clear that children were very welcome by him. So, instead of sending the children away, Jesus invited them back, took them in his arms, embraced them, and gave them his blessing.
With this action and his words, he made clear the worth of children, “theirs is God’s kingdom.”
Does Jesus care about children? What do you think? This story highlights the importance and caring Jesus places on children.
To me, this means that by taking care of children, whether it is at home, school, or church, we are doing what Jesus would do. If you are a parent or grandparent and take care of your children and are helpful and nice to other children, you are doing Jesus’ work. If you are an educator who cares about children’s development and success, you are doing kingdom work too. You see, this transcends religion, politics, or any other concern we may have. The well-being of children unites us to make the world a better place.
Sadly, we live in a world that’s getting more and more dangerous for children, and we need to be more attentive and engage than ever before in the well-being and development of our kids.
In the Bible study that I lead on Thursday, we talked about this, and Kay Horne shared a true story that, although it may not be a catastrophic one, does show a sad reality of how children experience life sometimes. Here is what she said,
“Between my senior year in college and my first year of teaching, I taught four-year-olds in a Summer Head Start program. One day, a little girl asked me if I liked spaghetti – “of course,” I said yes. She said her parents had spaghetti for dinner last night. I asked if it was good, and she told me she didn’t know because she and her brother had bread sandwiches. When I asked what a bread sandwich was, she replied that it was two pieces of bread put together. Parent’s supper had spaghetti; kid’s supper bad bread with bread.”
What I got from this experience that Kay shared with us is that sometimes children are thought of as unimportant, like a second-class citizen that is yet to be deserving of what we adults get to have. I think this is what was happening to the children in the story of the gospel of Mark.
How do you think this informs the self-esteem and worth of children? How does it impact their mental and emotional development?
A few years ago, I came across this quote,
“If a child lives with criticism, She learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, She learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, She learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, She learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, He learns justice.
If a child lives with security, She learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, She learns to find love in the world.”
Friends, we need to work together for the well-being of every child if our future is to look better than what we have right now. The way to build a just and kind society is by raising just and kind children.
As a parent of two sons and a pastor that looks after many children, I understand this very well. It all begins with nurturing their minds and hearts. The blessing Jesus gave to the children was not just the words he spoke over them but also the message of value, worth, and affirmation he was writing into their hearts by how he treated them.
Jesus wasn’t just teaching about the worth of children, but he is also teaching us how to bless them by inviting, welcoming, including, listening, and caring for them.
If you are an educator, this is what we know you do. In many ways, you are like Jesus to our children. You create these safes spaces for them to learn and grow. We bring them to you five days a week, and you welcome and look after them. You have a great power to bless them.
So we want to thank you and bless you for all you do for all of us, for making our homes, our churches, and our world a better place by helping us teach our little ones.
Today’s invitation is this: Whenever we have children’s presence with us, let us remember how Jesus treated them: he welcomed them, he embraced them, he blessed them, and he encouraged them.