Jesus showed a tenderness towards children by both word and deed. Parents must have sensed this because they brought their children to Him to be blessed, for Him to lay His hands on them and to pray for them. (Matthew 19:13). When Jesus’ disciples protested He spoke words that over centuries of time have become famous. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them” (:14).
Mark records a further demonstration of His love, saying that Jesus “took the children in His arms” (10:16). He cuddled them. Physical touch was important to Him. Just imagine the memories of those children in years to come. The actual touch of One who would become Saviour of the world!
Earlier as He was teaching His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and who would be “first” there, Jesus took a small child into His arms as an illustration of His point, saying: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me!” (Mark 9:37). This certainly prioritized the important deeds the disciples might have imagined themselves doing, in His name!
Jesus went on to explain: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Now that is humbling. What sort of intellectual assent could a child give to something of such magnitude as the kingdom of heaven? But that was just the point! Coming into the kingdom of God is “not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6)….and His Spirit could reveal truth to a little child. I can attest to that since I knew Jesus was my Saviour at a very early age. I also knew I was naughty – a sinner who needed to ask God’s forgiveness for my daily sins – a wonderful habit to begin as a child.
A child has very little to offer in an adult world. They are learning. But what they do have to offer, no amount of education can teach. I have seen mentally challenged children, perhaps the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, giving gifts of love and trust to their adult counterparts. How amazing is that? We can learn from their innocence, from the very dependency of children, how to relate to God who views us as His children.
Jesus explains again: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He goes on to say this would require humbling themselves in order to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (:4). John the Baptist understood this. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). There was no cousinly jealousy, no competition in ministry. Perhaps this is why Jesus described John as the greatest among those ever born of woman! (Luke 7:28).
As children of God we have the privilege of calling Him our Father! He knows us well – we are so vulnerable to feelings of pride, the need to control our lives (and perhaps the lives of others as well). We are weak in understanding the bigger picture and the plans God has for us. We see relationships from our own perspective, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. Yes – we are very vulnerable! But Jesus takes us in His arms and blesses us. He is in heaven right now praying for you and for me (Hebrews 7:25).
Why do we often turn away from those who are vulnerable? What does that tell us about the inner person?
When we truly love, how do we express that?
Do we love those who are vulnerable in words only, or in deeds?
by Marilyn Daniels (marilyndaniels.net)