A reporter once asked the famous theologian, Karl Barth, to summarise his view of Christian doctrine. Now, Barth was a respected theologian and had completed twelve thick volumes on theology, so he could have given an impressive dissertation. He didn’t. Instead, he simply replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Those simple words, put to an uncomplicated melody, contain the most profound truth the world will ever hear. They come from one of the best known children’s hymns. The Bible tells us that indeed Jesus loves us and specifically the Bible shows us that Jesus loves children.
Was Jesus too busy?
Mark 10 tells us about a busy day for Christ and His disciples when people tried to bring some children to Jesus so He could bless them. The disciples had a full schedule. They didn’t have time for these bothersome little kids, and they told the parents so.
The disciples rebuked those who brought the children to Jesus! They thought that He was too important to bother with little children. To them, children were a nuisance and an unnecessary interruption. “Can’t you see that Jesus is busy with more important things than children? He’s got work to do! Leave Him alone! He’s busy teaching us. He doesn’t have time to waste on little kids!”
Mark 10:14-16 says that when Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.
You don’t hear about Christ being angry very often, but when His disciples tried to send the children away, Jesus got angry! He didn’t consider little ones to be a waste of His precious time. Jesus valued children. And He made sure His disciples got that message loud and clear.
The greatest in the Kingdom
Can you imagine what it was like for those children to have Jesus put His hand on them and bless them? Jesus loved those little ones.
Matthew 18 records a time when Jesus’
disciples asked Him, “Who is going to be the greatest in Your Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child over. He told His followers, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matt 18:3. What was Jesus talking about? What do
children have that adults are lacking?
Obviously He wasn’t talking about maturity or intellect. I don’t think He was talking about innocence or obedience either; it doesn’t take long for little children to find ways and means of disobeying. When I was a little boy my teacher called me “incorrigible”. I had no idea what she was talking about and neither did the rest of the class. I had to go home and ask my dad – he didn’t know either!
The quality Jesus was talking about is trust. Children by nature are very trusting. As adults we want to depend on our own achievements. And the longer we live apart from God, the harder it is to admit we need God’s grace. On the other hand, that kind of absolute trust comes naturally to little children.
Recent statistics say that over 83% of Christians make the decision to follow Christ before the age of 18. Only 17% are saved after age 18. Children and young people are a priority to Jesus, and they need to be a priority to us too!
Jesus went on to tell His disciples, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in My Name welcomes Me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matt 18:5-6.
Take care of God’s children
Historically, the Russian Orthodox Church failed to offer education for the children and youth in the church. Their failure to teach the children left a vacuum in the minds of the youth of Russia and Communism tried to fill that void. For that reason, the church of Russia was partly to blame for seventy years of oppression under atheistic Communism.
Now, admittedly, it takes energy and patience to teach children. It takes time and money to provide for the needs of young people. But it’s worth whatever it takes!
When you see little ones running around at church, you are seeing the ones who are greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. The ministry to children is probably the most important ministry in your local church.
There are parents who don’t understand the importance of giving their children spiritual direction. They want them to wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves about spiritual things or go to church. Yet they don’t let them wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves if they should go to school, visit the dentist, or clean their room.
Point them to Jesus Christ
A preacher wanted to show off his garden to a man who wouldn’t let his children attend church. He wanted them to wait until they were old enough to decide for themselves. When they walked into the garden, it was full of weeds, which were choking out his squash, beans and tomatoes. The man said, “This is a pitiful excuse for a garden!” To which the preacher replied: “I just wanted to wait until the vegetables had a chance to decide for themselves what they wanted to do!”
The children were brought to Jesus. That’s what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to bring them to Him. If you don’t bring them, they might never come.
Nico Bougas is the International Coordinator of Hellenic Ministries. For more information email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or www.hellenicministries.com