Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
(Matthew 19:13-15 ESV)
Not coincidentally, the subject of today’s passage is children. After just speaking about divorce it’s appropriate that the next subject Jesus talks about are children who are all too often the victims of divorce.
The Greek word for “children” here is παιδιον (pronounced: pahee-dee’-on) which means “infant; one recently born”. These children were not capable of coming to Jesus on their own so they were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray. Jewish parents often brought their children to respected rabbis to receive a blessing. We have a similar custom in today’s Christian churches when parents dedicate their children.
But the disciples rebuked the people for bringing their children to Jesus. Apparently they considered Jesus to be too important to be bothered with little children who were pretty much thought of as a nuisance. But Jesus was always willing to associate with the outcasts of society be they adult or children and He tells the disciples to let the little children come to Him and do not hinder them.
The kingdom of heaven is comprised of such people – children and those who are like them: helpless and dependent. This can include anyone old enough to recognize their sin. Those who are too young to know they are sinners and understand the gospel seemingly go to heaven if they die before reaching an accountable age [2 Samuel 12:23].
In the western world children mostly live to adulthood. Therefore it is imperative that parents teach their children about Jesus early on and not hinder their child’s spiritual growth. The concept of letting children “decide for themselves” may sound noble, but is a tactic from Satan who knows that children who learn about Jesus at an early age are more likely to seek forgiveness of their sins when they are older than those who do not.
I firmly believe that there will a ton of people in heaven beating the crap out of their parents for all eternity because they did not teach them about Jesus, causing them to end up in hell. Not teaching children the gospel is sin [Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4].
I read an interesting commentary in which the author postulated that perhaps the high mortality rate of children in countries where the gospel is prohibited was a blessing from God. Perhaps God takes them to heaven before they grow up and become old enough to understand and grab on to the false teachings of their culture. Very interesting theory.
They may seem innocent, but children are born with a sinful nature [Psalm 51:5, 58:3; Job 15:14]. If God has put children in your life – be they your own or grandchildren or nieces/nephews – you are commanded not to lead them away from Jesus either physically or via your lifestyle [Mark 9:42]. In fact, you should actively bring them to Jesus.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.