Week 6: The New Testament and Children

Day 4: Forbid Them Not – Matthew 19:13-15; 18:3,4; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17

The disciples were just as human as any of the rest of us, and they made that very plain by some of their attitudes and actions. In Mark 10:13, we see parents bringing their children to Jesus so that He might bless them. This bothered the disciples, whether because they held the children in small estimation, or because they felt the act was unnecessary and a waste of time we do not know. Regardless they began to turn these people away. In fact, they did more than simply turn them away. They rebuked them. They made sure that the people could not come close to Jesus.

It would be easy to lay a lot of criticism at the disciples’ door, but the truth is that this happens today. In more than one church, I have heard people speak against the children that were being brought into Sunday Schools or Children’s Church programs. I have even heard children being told they could not come back again, usually because of behavioral issues. Is this the way God wants us to respond?

“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus was not happy with His disciples. In fact, the word “displeased” has the idea of being “moved with indignation.” It was the disciples’ turn to be rebuked. Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him.

“Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” What did Jesus mean by this? Why must a man receive the kingdom of God as a child? Jesus knew the tenderness of a child’s heart, their simple faith and humility. He knew these were the qualities needed if one were to enter the kingdom of God. The parallel passage in Matthew 18:3,4 clarifies this some, “…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus was basically saying, Until you turn yourself around, quit focusing on how great you are and humble yourself, you will not enter the kingdom of God. In other words, pride would keep a man from coming to true salvation. Salvation isn’t based on any merit of our own, but on the humble acknowledging that without Christ and His work on Calvary I am hopelessly lost.

When Jesus had finished rebuking the disciples, he turned His full attention back to the children, “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  Oh, the comfort of the arms of Jesus. Can you imagine having just watched as these men angrily tried to chase you and your parents away from Jesus, then seeing Him defend you, and scoop you up and tenderly hold you and speak words of blessing upon you? What an amazing moment that must have been. I can see the fear caused by the disciples’ actions slipping out of that child’s eyes and being replaced with perfect peace and happines.

This is the same desire Jesus has toward us. He wants us to lay aside our pride and come to Him as little children, so that He may take us into his arms, embrace us and bless us.

“Suffer the little children, and forbid them not.”

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Some of the children at Lifeway Academy in Kenya.

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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption

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One thought on “NT 6:4 Forbid Them Not

  1. Very good article, Rachel. This so reminds me of a situation years ago and another way we can hinder these little ones from coming to Christ. When your dad was pastoring a church in Illinois there was a 41 year old Downs Syndrome woman who attended the church with her mother. Everyone, pastors included, had always told Nancy’s mother not to worry about Nancy spiritually that she was “safe”. Her mother had always believed that until they resumed church going after a long spell and your father faithfully and enthusiastically preached the truth the we need to accept the Christ and the payment for our sin on the cross for Salvation. One Sunday afternoon Nancy’s mom called and said that her daughter was constantly talking about “asking Jesus into her heart”. The mother had tried to ignore it the first couple times thinking that her daughter was just repeating what she had heard, Sunday after Sunday, but the daughter had become insistent about it. She agreed with me that we should talk to Nancy for it sounded as though she did understand that she was a sinner and needed Christ. What a wonderful thing when Nancy called up on the Lord to save her that afternoon. She was so full of joy and each Sunday after that would shake my hand, pat her chest and say, “I got Jesus in my heart.” Her child-like heart responded to baptism by saying, “Do it again!” She went home and on her own took down her “Chips” poster and found a “picture of Jesus” to put in its place. Years later we visited Nancy and her mother in a nursing home and she was still talking about Jesus in her heart. Fast forward about ten years and I am trying to offer a “special ed” person a gospel tract at a grocery store. The response is a quick hand of refusal and then, “I don’t have to take that!” So they are teaching them in our “Special Ed” classes that they are so special that they don’t need religion and they don’t have to put up with any attempts to convert them. So sad: “Forbid them not!”

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