Jesus Blesses Little Children
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
God has used His word recently to cause me to evaluate my motivation in following Him. I would like to share what I trust His Spirit is teaching me in recent weeks as I continue to pray that it will penetrate deeply into my heart - the source of my motivation.
In Matthew chapter 19, there are two powerful verses which describe a seemingly simple scene. These verses are ones we are all familiar with since they often conjure up feelings of warmth and tenderness as Jesus welcomes the little children who are brought to Him on this day. Just the simple fact that families are entrusting their children to a perfect stranger should tell us something about the developments of Jesus's ministry at this time. In fact, it seems that His popularity has reached a fever pitch and crowds are gathering from all the surrounding cities in response the the rumors that He is passing through. Even His disciples are energized as they are active in ministry, seeing miracles and wonders by the man who has called them by name. I suspect they even have a sense of pride in their own growing popularity as they walk in close association with the "miracle man".
Yet along with the excited popularity, we also see the heated opposition. Perhaps the only thing surpassing the love and adoration of the people is the hatred of the Pharisees. There has got to be something about this man they can nail down to discredit His unprecedented influence among the people. They seethe with the desire to ridicule the new rabbi.
I suppose Jesus could feel the anger of the opposition just as much as he could the warmth of adoration. For we know He has now begun to set His face toward Jerusalem and He knew well the suffering that was before Him. This had to touch Him deeply in His human heart. And yet, the deepest pain would not be felt in the cut of the thorns or the rake of the whip. Instead, it was the wound of betrayal that would penetrate deepest. For many, if not most, of those who now stood before him in excited praise would soon stand tall, with mouths on fire, demanding His crucifixion.
That is...except for the children. Their hearts would not know enough to understand the choice of betrayal. They would see only the gentle touch of the one who embraced them and maybe this is why Jesus welcomes them into his arms. They brought Him comfort in the wake of what is to come. An innocent embrace and sincere adoration. It must have been a warm and refreshing blanket of love to our Savior.
Yet the disciples had duty and destiny before them. The children, although cute and cuddly, were inhibiting progress toward the goal. Miracles are worth waiting for - they bring popularity and awe. Children, although sweet, do not draw crowds and impress people. They were better things to be done, namely, the move to Jerusalem where Jesus, the Messiah, will finally assume His rightful reign. With such growing popularity, they would soon take Jerusalem by storm and like David, they will dance into the new city of hope as peace and freedom will be established across the land. If only they had eyes to see.
Two verse - Three groups - Three perspectives. Where do you see yourself?
- Are we like the Pharisees? "How could this be?" you might ask. "I certainly don't stand in angry opposition!" But perhaps it is more subtle. Do we stand aloof? Just far enough away from Jesus to study, the examine, to test. But rarely close enough to embrace Him in adoration. Has he become a subject to be studied more than a person to be known. If so, perhaps we share more in common than we would like to admit.
- What about the disciples? Are we more interested in being known as a follower of Jesus or is it more important for us to be known by Jesus himself? Be honest. Are you motivated by reputation or relationship?
- Maybe it is the children. Do we need to cultivate this simple trust, this child-like faith, this humble belief in Jesus. Not a theological treatise, a convincing apologetic or a persuasive sermon. A person! A person with whom we are completely satisfied when we crawl into His lap and simply rest in His presence. A Savior with whom we are more inclined to sit His feet than we are to the busyness of His service.
Two verses - powerful message. Thank you Jesus!